On the Talala Trail

                        Talala is Cherokee for woodpecker

The muddy clay grass weeds stuck to the bottom of my sneakers like what’s caking my soul bogged down with mud and clay and straw, my airy soul, anima alma animus of my dreamworld between the worlds weighted with claymud tromping a path I choose, in the drizzle always that claymud as I drag my feet over the grass trying to clean some of it off, trying to keep my soul clean, free of all that muddy mess of a path that’s under construction, which means retracing my steps instead of going on, retracing what isn’t my soul-work, how easily I get bogged down, mired in it, losing my way until I reach the overlook foggy drizzle everything gray, there’s no lake, no horizon, no lookout but vast emptiness like the Gulf, the yawning void, the hills a mirage in the place the horizon should be, late afternoon gray, deathlike calm punctuated by crow caws, no woodpeckers or hawks, silence and the way out and past where a boat carries the soul to the other side and those souls busy themselves watching us bog ourselves down, watch us making choices as if we had no choice on such a gray, drizzly day, but to cake our souls in mudclay.

Susan Ayres holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Sycamore Review, Cimarron Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She teaches in Texas.

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