Cypress stand despite scarred trunks,
wrenched away branches.
Azure horizon backlights rooted captives.
Sunrise catches septuagenarians
clumped together on ridgeline.
Laocoön remnants of dwindling forest,
a fallen tangle of toppled limbs
curls around tall survivors.
Around them, clear cut ruin.
Twisted fingers plead for reprieve,
invoke vanquished spirits of druids.
Deceptive sunlight masks frosty wind gusts.
Blue shadows beneath pine trees
harbor faux snowfall.
White encrusts wooden bridge planks,
sparkles from frozen foliage.
Chill blows inland, across hills.
Polar vortex penetrates mittens.
Aching knuckles, cold fingers.
Mud trails stiffen.
Puddles harden to ice floes.
Lower Santa Rosa Creek Trail
Composted pathway curls beneath shadow.
Angular willows intertwine skinny fingers,
form a meandering, secretive tunnel.
Turgid creek puddles,
ferments in shallow peat pools
behind emerald curtain of kudzu.
I am a noisy, intrusive Goliath,
heavy footfalls scattering
frantic brown sparrows.
Triumphing over gravity,
I ascend to grassy ridge,
panoramic vista of wrinkling ocean.
Elevation leads me onto a deer trail
into dusty forest, past piles of pine cones.
Skunk scent suggests a long-gone attacker.
I teeter through poison oak thickets,
imagine the metaphor,how deft balance matters.