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Hiking the Van Huyck Preserve
by Marion Menna
Past the kiosk, leaning precariously,
onto the trail along the creek,
dammed, not damned, as the guide
book says, two hundred years ago
to provide power for the felt mill,
now in green moss-covered ruins
inhabited by fishers and foxes.
Hear the sound of ripplets,
softly flowing over smooth stones,
then a roar as the red bridge appears.
Ahead white water cascades over
carved steps of Devonian
sandstone, siltstone, shalestone,
sixty feet of falls,
clamoring in its free-fall,
slip-slapping the boulders,
streaming past snags of sticks,
straining to be let loose,
a mad rush downwards
to the river, to the sea.
“Trail closed, falling rocks, unstable,”
reads the weathered wooden sign.
An arrow points to uphill climb
past second growth forest
of hemlocks, maples, beech,
and silver birch–the absence
of birdsong disturbing.
Hear wind in the tops of the trees,
low moan of limbs rubbing.
Then the jack-hammer crack
of pileated woodpecker, lunatic
laugh of another, arc of flight,
flash of red head in tree top,
as trail opens to Lake Myositis,
very still, forget-me-not blue.
They follow us, curious–
the easier hike downhill,
over the bridge, the falls,
back to the leaning kiosk.
They follow and watch.