The gorse-edged trail, the path up through sheep laurel and sedge
by the lake, and then up again through the meadow and remnants
of orchard and mill. Nine-months pregnant, you leaned back
into shadow under a russet-thick apple tree, then on after that
to the edge of the pine forest, the signs promising
a circle back to the parking lot. Still later, a steel bridge brought us
over the river, the water bursting against the mesh-encased blocks
buttressing the tracks that once went to Waterford and Kitchener,
and here there was another road and we were lost. We'd arrived this way
in another summer, and gone down to water. I remembered that time--
I didn't know if I loved, or was loved, but now that felt like the past.

Climbing to the road, gleaming and ravenous, you fell into a café chair,
I went back for the car. Over the river, the bridge, ancestral memory
of a train going past, a hint of doubt, then forest, then meadow, running
because the baby could come at any time. Then orchard and mill, and why
did I stop to look at the old stones, the dead shapes close
to the ground saying something about what they'd been used for? Why
did I lie down where you had, now the sky different, the light different? Although
the flowing reek of apples was the same, the flattened shape
in the grass. It was as if that old other part of my life was over,
and I was here to remember it, the way we'd been. Like that dead family
who ground grain here and fed carrots to the horses, and turned
that great wheel we thought probably fit into a groove in the side
of one of the crushed walls, and baked, and made love, and there was
no city below them, and nothing above them but the sky and its gods.

by Michael Redhill

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