by Maralee Gerke
Blanketed in bitterbrush and sage,
sandy hills roll toward the horizon.
A gravel path curves into the juniper forest
around the lee of an ancient mountain.
Creeping phlox show clumps of magenta
and in the shade, yellow bells bloom.
My shadow spreads over the rocky ground
as I walk toward the mingling of water and earth.
Red winged blackbirds cling to thick lines of dried cattails.
Placid coots paddle in the shallows
their black beaks dipping into the duck weed.
Pairs of mallard ducks swim in unison trailing silver wakes.
A golden eagle shadow-hunting above the marsh
perturbs the serenity, stilling the calls of small birds.
Gloved hands curled into warm pockets
and breath puffed out in opaque clouds,
I let the silent refuge hold me.