I walk on forest floor, no canopy above my head in this Western land. Sage brushes my legs, its scent sticky where velvet meets twigs. The crunch of red sand on grit, I march on as the sun falls, its descent revealing the softness of these desert colors. Red becomes chocolate, green is now mulberry, but creamy bark shines luminescent in lunar rays.
Muted too, I walk on mountain crests, encouraged further by the falling night. Stars appear and owls hoot, then bats dart through the air as crickets serenade. Still softness, scents, and silence behind the myriad sounds. Silence as an inner state, not as sonic lack.
As the light diminishes, my wellbeing augments, the wide, wide horizon depleted to a gentler dimension. How could those bright skies have been so big, now night brings us so close and intimate in her cool, rich embrace?
As soon as I stepped out, I stepped inward, as always, this time to my childhood walks. It’s what marked me as different, how I’d quietly slip away from the house, crawl through the blackberries in the back and onto the fields behind the garden, sometimes with a little blue cardboard case stitched with white string, and packed with a doll, a cardigan and some crisps.
I walked on fields, and then in suburban streets as the green belt became cloaked in black tar. Adolescence bloomed, and a secret cigarette accompanied these walks, but nothing much changed other than that. The rain would come, sometimes snow, but still my footsteps would fall, splashing puddles as they appeared, silent in their state, the scent of rain on concrete, a glow of phosphorescence reflected in the grey water.
Tonight, I walk in foreign climes now familiar from these nine years. I wonder how much longer these red rocks will be my special place, and if I’ll swap them for cold streets and warm hearts, the chatter of fellows with illuminated faces.
Perhaps peace can be found in numbers, not in solitude after all! But if so, it surely will be found still in foot steps, through streets of men, and steel and stone, as it’s been present all these years in red rock, dry soil, and ancient, fragrant green leaf.