2021-09-23T14:34:54-07:00May 26th, 2011|Musings on life|

The secret path

I wasn’t shown the path;
I was initiated.

Only the kids on the island use it,
brambles and sinkholes
treehouse half way
a pond of sludge
a rope swing
names in hearts
carved in bark.

Most of the walk
isn’t a walk
for me

it’s a shuffle
crouched down
and hunched over
like a troll,
ducking under branches
that graze the top
of her head.

She is six and a half.

Doesn’t have a television
but knows the lyrics
to all the old musicals.

When we get to a bridge,
rotten planks
soft like old fruit,
she makes me swear to secrecy
all sorts of things:

her name
the day of the week
and that this path
exists at all.

I asked her why grown-ups
aren’t supposed to know about it.

She looked at me
with an expression reserved for displays
of mental shortcomings.

“You’d name it,” she said,
“and then it would lose
its magic.”

I thought about it later,
her bare feet marching across the forest floor,
a nest of sharp rocks and twigs,
the secret handshake she taught me
underneath the treehouse
that was really just
a normal handshake,
the way she didn’t worry
about bridges collapsing
and the fragility of

And I thought,
what if she’s right,
what if we didn’t name things
like marriage?

What if we just loved
with the giddiness
and solemness
of a secret pact.

The next time I saw her
it was in the treehouse
and I asked her
about the marriage idea.

She said she didn’t know about
things like boys yet
and then she sent her favourite song
from Oliver into the trees
as loud as her voice
could carry it.

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