Mountain Shelter

I walk alone in the forest
an uphill climb through the laurel
my breathing is labored
but the morning sun warms my bones

The wind freshens from the north
a warning of afternoon showers
the clouds ride high
I have several hours before the rain

There is a cabin in the high glen
empty for as long as local folks remember
perhaps a shepherd summered here
maybe a mountain man's final shelter

Rough logs and a tin roof
not much warmth in winter
but salvation for an innocent
wandering the forest in weather

I see the shack in the distance
from the brush at the side of the path
an old tom turkey breaks his cover
emerging like Robin Hood upon a rich traveler

He spies me and turns uphill
he runs as I imagine an ostrich would run
one foot on the ground every few yards
striving for flight but unable to achieve takeoff velocity

We continue this way for a moment
two Olympic sprinters heading for the tape
he veers off into the brush past the shack
I realize the sound I hear is my own laughter.

A few hundred yards more and the trees stop,
high meadow, rough grasses punctuated
by boulders and rock ledges
fitting desks at which to sit and write my poetry

I finish my poem and redeposit my notebook
in my backpack which has become a pillow
I stretch out on the ground while my words
roll around my sleepy mind and echo down the mountain

With the first explosion I open my eyes
remember where I am, naked on a hillside
high point in the lightning zone while
the grasses and boulders lie low and snicker

Dodging the raindrops and counting
between the flashes and the crashes
flash 1001 crash too close
I reach the cabin in the nick of time

I'm dry in the interior
the trees well up to protect the cabin
the tin roof reverberates with every crash
I hope the flashes cannot find me here

I imagine the ghost of the shepherd
calming his panicked flock and
wondering why this poor fool is
huddled in his cabin terrified

The mountain man bursts in the door
heaves his load of pelts and skins upon the floor
winks at me in the corner and
turns to build a fire in the stone fireplace

Later on, the three of us share
the last remains of my instant coffee
talk about the weather and the mountain
complain about being alone but remain alone

The rain has passed, the sun returns
enough light to make it home
the three of us depart in our separate dimensions
each to his own but happily alone

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Cabin in the wilderness

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