Before GPS, road signs or chiseled
monuments, travelers left messages
for those who might follow by gathering
rocks and stacking them in cairns—
to show the way, to mark a location,
to honor the dead, to offer tribute.
This week, on a slow curve of sidewalk
among trees, I discovered a cairn of a
special kind. At first sight it was a dazzling
curiosity: A rock nearly knee-high with
one brilliantly-colored liquid-amber leaf
standing straight up on its slender stem,
like a flag, in the rock’s cleft top. Bedazzle
shot me through with a God-thrill.
I drew closer and discovered a spiky, round
burr from the liquid-amber tree wedging
the stem tight, keeping the leaf in place,
standing upright. And near the base of the
rock was a ledge, small as an elf-shelf,
and on the shelf two small stones were
balanced one atop another, not by chance.
My breath caught. Somewhere not far
away lives someone who built a cairn,
a secret marker, an altar in the woods of
suburbia. A rock, a leaf, two stones,a few
moments set aside to make the day holy.
Something in me let go…
I fell from my solo trapeze,
coming down in the jeweled net
of Infinite Communion.
Ann L. Keiffer