Walking the West-Creek Conservancy
by Carole Mertz
Today I learned to distinguish between the Black Locusts, the Cottonwoods, and the white-trunked Sycamores. It was not only their names I was eager for, but to see how they differed along the path, and to be able to recognize them on another day in another setting. Such was my wish until I came to the grove of Cottonwoods, there in the glen where the path turns. They chittered to each other, perhaps more in movement than in sound. Flecks of leaves flittering in the breeze and soon to fall to the ground. I thought I heard their conversation, but I was becoming confused by what was aural and what visual.
Dizzying dialogue with myself blew in and out of my brain, till the park bench brought me down, centered me, and made me—among the moving individual branches, beneath the huge and joyful white clouds, within that tree-induced stupor in mid-September—made me still.
There on the bench my husband joined me. We two, stroked by sunlight, may have spoken, or not. Surely we thought of other Septembers vanished now, into the history of our long, shared life. We likely remembered things, most long-forgotten, a feature of this seventh stage of life.
So I rose and, walking along, remained in the moment. Even while enjoying this time in nature, I was aware that somewhere across the world some tired medic was making ethical decisions under conditions of pandemonium. Could he save this one migrant, sick with fever and plucked from the sea?
I walked along. The Black Locusts stood sedate, their leaves a darker shade of green; there the Sycamores, stripped of most of their outer bark; and there the Cottonwoods, still chittering.
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Carole Mertz lives with her pastor husband in Parma, Ohio where she teaches piano to young children. Music and poetry have lived in her veins for years, but she began publishing her work only since 2008. Stories, essays, and reviews are included in various journals, including Mom Egg Review, World Literature Today, WOW! Women on Writing, 1888 center, and in the volume: Writing After Retirement, Eds.,Smallwood & Redman-Waldeyer. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). Her most recent poems are in Voices de la Luna, at WPWT, and The Society of Classical Poets.