Walking into the Distance

Maurice Manning

Midsummer and the path in the woods 
is dark. I cannot see its end
or rather what I know to be
its sudden fading at the fence
before an unkempt lonely field.
I cannot see the other end
when I look back, midway
on the walk I’ve taken, stepping slowly
There must be something on my mind,
but I prefer to notice how
the sugar maples have dispersed
themselves, the buckeyes and the beech,
and soon, though longer for me, the poplars will
tower over the other trees.

The recurring dream I’ve had for years
is to imagine the great trees,
and I’ve imagined there might be
a moral purpose to such a dream.
Sensual, decadent beauty
presenting itself completely with bugs
for music. And a butterfly—
insanely flapping its dun wings
until it snaps back to freedom
from the harmless thread a spider left—
silently recomposes itself,
as if nothing symbolic has happened,
to float farther into this moment
that has forever living in it.

Maurice Manning‘s most recent book is Railsplitter. He teaches at Transylvania University and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives with his family in Kentucky. 

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