The summer I was sixteen
you yet weren’t
was unlike all other summers
we had shared till then
neighboring grandparents
each with our own
seasonal haven – you
with two sisters, a brother
I just had me

Our side of Horseshoe Lake
summer home to
other grandparents
other grandkids
many transient short-stay
weekend grandkids
none ever as close
physically or in friendship
as the five of us

Your sisters found me odd

Your brother
a best-of-summer friend
simply glad to have had some
gender balance
on the beach
traipsing through woods on
some random adventure or just
playing badminton

The summer I was sixteen
found us all in a
different place
woodland hikes were
less frequent
rarely in full groups

Gone were times
seeking imagined oddities
feigned adventure
days of play
childhood adventure

All replaced by more solitary
strolls with less structure
more purpose

One of those afternoon
just-the-two of us
was different
became welcome on

a trail we had trod a
hundred times or more
at a place we had
long known
where the afternoon sun
split the canopy of
towering pines
swaying birch

I sat down on familiar
decaying log, you
promptly sat on my lap
I took the hint
followed solid hunch

and suddenly understood
the phrase
‘easy as falling off a log’

The next day
wanting to always remember
eschewing simply
grabbing my knife and
carving our initials in
nearby tree trunk

I returned to that very spot
with a sign
painted that morning in
the woodshed

a singular plank
nailed with gusto to a
wooden stake
and hammered the marker
into the
pine-needle carpeted
sandy earth.

Later I took you back there

showed you my
sign of

You suddenly found agreement
with your sisters
thinking me crazy
fearing someone else
would see it
on this trail others
rarely used

you wanted anonymity
I offered raw proclamation

Your incredulity thus
negated by rash of affection
you kissed me
yet again
which I took as a sign
leaving the wood one there

Five years later
I returned to those woods
took a quick walk
feeling many of the
same feelings on that
same path, arriving at the
same glade, that very log

The clearing was
becoming more overgrown
as we had all
moved on

time, nature
logically reclaiming the woods
yet I found the log
right there where we
had left it

unused, more decayed
it crumbled to
my touch
I well understood
the sentiment
wry, inherent irony

The sign, incredibly
toppled, face down, behind
the log
entangled in forest vines

I yanked it free
turned it over

The wood had weathered to
warped, cracked
yet the bold
white lettering from
ancient can of
oil-based paint
I found in the woodshed
still told
the story we had written

I had commemorated

to your blushing, stifled giggle
faux chagrin
just our names, a date
a small heart
beneath the facts

I looked at it for a while
at its preservation
life as artifact of our past

The woods had kept it for me
I felt It right to do the same

I put the sign back
where, how I found it
then walked the rest of that trail
one more time

Always an instinctual guy
to this day
I still always believe in signs

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2020

8 thoughts on “K.

  1. This poem tells such a distinct story. I loved the line- “the woods had kept it for me” alluding to the earlier action, sentiment and moments in time. Well written!

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