On this brilliant October afternoon,
four-year-old Leah and I
take up our branch walking sticks again
and start our trek around the small lake,
the man-made fountain rippling water in circles,
forcing squawking wild ducks to the reeds,
and the ground is covered with bright leaves,
which Leah stoops to examine,
then hands me a perfect red maple one,
and soon I’m carrying a pile of leaves,
three feathers, and my pocket jiggles
with small stones, but toadstools Leah pokes
with her stick, Don’t touch, she says, they’re poison,
and as we turn the next bend deep in the woods,
something crackles the underbrush, and Leah says,
There are snakes, Mimi, so stay on the path,
and she tugs on my hand, but a hundred feet ahead,
says, I’m tired, and I’m thinking how can I carry
this forty-pound child, if she can’t make it?
so I ask, Can you still walk? and Leah says,
Yes, I just stay on the path, and I think how I
never followed the route laid out for me, rather
took shortcuts, diversions, for better or worse,
but as my granddaughter scampers ahead,
full of herself, the day, and the woods,
I don’t want to be anywhere else
except on the path that has brought us both here.
From Detours & Diversions (Main Street Rag, 2011).
This poem first appeared in U.S.1 Worksheets (2010).
Used here with the author’s permission.