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.