Consider the space between A  B,
the middle sister nobody sees,
or the last invited, all set to go
but left behind wearing a new green coat,
speechless, while trail guides point out A and B. 

At B  C  through D  E begins the climb.
Through the spaces float new music, something exotic
moving through blue lights in the alley at night,
hinting at things you don’t know,
caressing your lapels, humming.
Most move on from here.

Finding your stride in the stretch of E  F  G  H,
set down your pack, look into the openings
to flying insects clicking in the heat,
yellow daffodils dotting a long meadow,
and the sun’s warm hands on your face.

Now, H  I  J  K  L, tall trees on the forest edge,
guardians with folded arms. Slip through
into moist shadows beneath the canopy,
to lichened logs crumbling in moss,
exposing hallways of ants navigating
their way through day after day of rebuilding.

But the space of M  N, solitude of two men,
gyppo loggers felling trees in the quiet snow.
Peace and physical work are holding hands here,
wordless, looking into the woods, aware of being
half-way to something they can wait for.

The curvy section O P Q R S,
the roundnesses of our bodies, of apple pies,
of walks on rolling hills, best plans,
and circling in and out of openings right in front of us,
laughing with forgiveness.

And S T U V, an odd group in the woods
like clues of an old homestead—
bricks, chrome table leg, outhouse, rusty axle—
and you wander in, farther, wondering about their life,
how things might have been better,
finding the spot to sit, like a wood duck 
missing its mate at dusk.

Don’t let the lines of W X Y Z throw you off, 
like sticks covering caves where hermits meditate,
or self doubts that need to be in charge,
or hard, angry lines of a letter you just crumple,
then move on, lighter, not looking back.

At last, from a high place looking out,
no melancholy, no grief or forgiveness,
no self discovery, no best plans
or illusions of sticks—
only exuberance after Z.


Photo by Surendran MP on Unsplash

John Herold

John Herold lives in Duluth, Minnesota. Having taught high school English and then college writing, he now tutors an underserved community in a GED program. His poetry has appeared in Freshwater Review and Wisconsin Review.