October Listen: I am turning sixty in the woods. A decade after I wrote a poem from my photo stream, “Fifty Autumns,” I took a picture of this same special spot in Rocky Narrows, yesterday, on the same trail and footbridge over the wetlands. While I was walking, I answered a call on my cell from a dear friend. She asked me what I am doing to honor each of these special days leading up to my rite-of-passage birthday. I am revisiting the poem, reflecting on how writing it helped me shape the days of my last decade. I am asking, have I fulfilled its imperatives, to set fires, to brew mysterious stews. . . have I sparked unborn spirits? And, it’s time to wonder, to ask, what are the necessities and essentials, the spirit, of my next decade? What is the spirt of this new age?
One autumn I turned fifty in the woods. Leaves of black ash, red maple blazed and blew onto swamp cabbage, stinking and wilting. Cinnamon ferns were browning and crisping, and I could tell there was time but no date in the woods – it was any year of every decade adding up to this new age.
I came to a footbridge planted over a tiny creek, made of planks sewn from hardwoods, planed and nailed to beams. One step and I could feel it sink a little and settle, and there in the swamp I knew the maple and ash would stand, the soil would be new and new again, the bridge would last, but not forever; the planks already were rotting and splintering from all the walking and weather, and soon enough it would take just one final step – maybe mine – to mash the last splinter of bridge back into the muck.
I kept walking and crossing something like a bridge and what I know now is: Time wastes you. It’s time to burst skin, trust without trying, set fires, brew mysterious stews, wake sleeping giants, spark unborn spirits, revive broken ones. There’s time to give your love for free.
©Kelly DuMar 2008; first published in Apeiron Review, 2013. Published in “All These Cures,” 2015