Note your walking habits, she said.
In breaking those habits lies self-knowledge,
she said. And I did notice my penchant
for clipping along, lost in thought,
and I did break it, and felt
the awkwardness of a body, unbalanced,
and saw what I would have missed: the tree,
limbs raised in praise toward the sky,
and the needles of sunlight
poking me from between branches,
and the chickadee chittering for me
as I stepped deliberately from the path.
But not today. There is a fire smoldering
in my bones, and my pen can’t scratch the page
fast enough to release its heat, and the words
don’t form quickly enough in prayer to speak
it out. And still, I didn’t miss it, not completely.
Didn’t miss the bald eagle, sailing over
the abbey church, as a bell tolled the quarter-hour,
pushed along by a tailwind toward the lake
and out of sight.
I walked faster, past the church, down a path,
through a gate of trees where the lake spread
before me. But no eagle gliding or diving
or waiting on a branch. Only this: a pair
of sunbathers on the lakeshore,
pointing at the distant loons.
I wasn’t fast enough. But I held that glimpse
in memory as I continued my walk: the church,
the sky, the bell, the bird, the wide white
tail, transfigured in an instant
into light, into sun.