It was deep in the forest in the late afternoon-
a sting in the air as it touched cheeks and backs of hands,
beside the pond, its dark water glazed over with a layer of ice,
oak trees on the shore thin and gray and gnarled and bare,
the sand shore itself covered with dead leaves and pinecones,
no sign of squirrels, woodchucks, black bear, deer or even birds
on the path that went around a foot from the water’s edge-
that I heard no sound but the in and out of my own breathing,
and the crunch of leaves and the snap of twigs underfoot-
no animal noises, no cars in the distance, no airplanes,
no other people, not even the whistle of the wind in the trees
as it blew the ragged clouds from west toward the ocean.
I knew that I was truly alone, and though I could sense
my mortality, I did not feel close to it, and although I felt
some insignificance, there was no ennui there, and I was not lonely
but felt the essence of nature all around me, calm and deep
and fearless as the pond itself on this Valentine’s Day.
To stand there and feel and be until nightfall would have been
a grand thing to do, but there were other places to be,
other sensations to experience in this one day. Unlike me,
the pond, the forest and the sky were going nowhere
and would be there in whole whenever I decided to return.