Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Mark

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

At first I wanted to hide them
from the hunters;
These four tawny brown, 
horizontal slashes
with their shreds and peels of
old black birch bark
in which a late-wandering
black bear had written,

“I am here!”

I often keep secrets of the
forest folk,
especially this time of year.

“Shhhhhh!” I wanted to say.

“Shhhhh! These people,
drunk on sorrows
and looking for retaliation for
wounds you didn’t place,
seek to kill you.

These people have forgotten
the proper way
to take medicine.”

But when the rust-gnarled
pickup approached,
thundering down the mountain
slope, throwing twisting red
dust clouds
into the chilled air,

I stepped beside the tree,

and stood, plainly,
at the edge of the road.

You see:

In a split second, I had re-membered
what it is to be human.

You see:

In each one of us
is a deep desire
to leave a mark.

You see:

The one true mark you are
uniquely here to leave
necessitates that you risk
your life in being seen.

The courageous and
the sacred fools
make their mark anyway.

They make their mark anyway
because choosing to be
is our human medicine.

I smiled and waved to these
strangers on the Ridge.

You see:

I wanted to let them know
that they’d been fully seen.

© 2012-2013/Jamie K. Reaser
Published in "Wild Life: New and Selected Poems" (

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