by Amy Fels
When I go hiking,
Which is often,
I stick to the trail.
Occasionally I’ll deviate,
When my curiosity gets the better of me.
Sometimes a burl or a creek bed or a patch of wildflowers needs to be seen up close.
But, for the most part,
I follow the path laid out before me.
Not because I lack a trailblazing spirit
Or distrust my own internal compass,
But because I know these woods, this prairie, that riverbank Aren’t for me to conquer and make my own.
I am the wayfaring guest.
Perhaps I may stay as long as I like or return as often as I please,
But the value of these spaces are beyond my judgment.
The beauty and worth of all the life, the lives, I pass by with each muffled crunch of my boots Does not cease when I turn my back to head for home.
The first time my first love invited me to her apartment,
I tried not to look into her bedroom.
That was a ravine I didn’t dare descend on my own.
I planted myself on the couch that night
Until she gently pulled at my roots three weeks later
And covered me back up in the softness of her sheets and the scent of her skin.
What a strange and wondrous duality it is to be both a landscape and a woman. We explored with no real sense of direction.
We heeded boundary signs and did not begrudge the lines not to be crossed, Instead allowed ourselves to be guided back to a clearer course.
She would break my heart,
Leave cracked twigs and a jagged trail behind her.
For a while I was lost in a place I once felt so found.
But that is okay.
I am a woman, an adventurer, and a landscape all in one.
There is nothing more resilient or capable of healing.
I remained beautiful and full of life long
After she walked away.
I’m sure she did too. I hope so.
Perhaps this is how I think about love these days.
To be loved,
Is to be a guest in the magnificence of someone else’s forest.
To respect the paths they have cut out for you.
To honor the trust given when they allow you to create your own.
To know they will still be miraculous if one day you are not welcomed back into their quiet depths. To believe that such a day will never come,
To tell yourself it’s still worth it, either way.
And to invite them to leave their own footprints across your inner self