Poem for a Tuesday — “Seasoned” by Joann White

Who is coming up from the wilderness, leaning on the one she loves? — Song of Songs 8:5

This old love is different,

not like the fire that

once brought us together. It

is in the shared delight

of bodies in motion, stiff

joints easing, legs finding the

right rhythm to fall in

step. It is in the

thrill of winter snow under

June boots and the soft

whomp of a well-aimed snowball.

I’ve learned it is in

the painstaking quest for the

perfect path, the testing of

rocks to ford a stream,

the map and compass ramble

to plot our course, the

patient return, this way you

say, certain and vulnerable, pointing

to contour lines threaded with

tenuous tracks. It is in

the trust to follow, despite

fear. It is in companionable

silence, sheltering from rain in

a shepherd’s bothy reeking of

coal fires spent and inked

with graffiti of hikers past.

Rising together to descend, hand

reaches for hand, palm against

palm, warm hearts slowly beat

the tempo that lasts.

This is the third poem in a series that I wrote in response to Kore-ada Hirokazu’s stunning film after life. It explores the memory that I might choose to live in for eternity, a day of rough hill walking through the heart of Scotland and over the shoulder of Schiehallion. This poem responds to the question, “When did you give or receive the most love?” I’ll share the last poem in the series next Tuesday.

The view from Hendrick’s Bothy.

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