The Man I Didn’t Want to Be


Even pick-up trucks slow when they cross the old concrete bridge.

Folks wonder at the limestone cliffs cradling sleepy water,

A primal tapestry warping blue sky and white clouds,

Woofing translucent greens and broken browns.

On the ledge black walnuts feed game, but not a single apple tree.

Sociable sycamores, determined poplars and distinguished water oaks

Crowd the river bank, but the worn gravel beaches

Are comforted by ferns, goldenrod, and Queen Anne's Lace.


In summer they park their trucks, duck the posted signs,

And traipse to water, carrying coolers,

Folding chairs, CD players, and kids.

Boys on ATVs roar up and down the water course

Making new trails in the defenseless tangle, cutting

Parallel arcs on sandbars and scree, love marks

Like spray-painted initials for girls

Who squeal in delight. Some leave at dusk,

Others party on.  In the morning all are gone, leaving bottles,

Cans, candy wrappers, sunscreen, panties, and apple cores.


I do my part: turn people away, put people off,

Pick up trash. They say, “Sorry, I didn’t see the sign,”

Or sometimes, “I can’t understand people like you

Who won’t share God’s beauty.”  I flinch

 And bite my tongue. I am called to be

The man I didn’t want to be.