The Day Trip

by Bruce Maples

We rose early in the morning,
    Met up at Starbucks, grabbed our coffee,
        And set out.

It was easy-going and fun –
    We laughed, kidded each other, told stories.
The road was wide, the hills were easy,
    Our backpacks light, the coffee hot.

But then, the fog came.

At first, it was so thin
    We didn’t notice it.
Then, as it got thicker,
    It became harder to see the path,
        And harder to see each other.

We tried to walk closer, call to each other,
    Even hold hands.
But the more we tried to act like all was okay,
    The thicker the fog became.

Then came the hills.

Steeper than before, longer than before,
    Climbing and climbing,
Breathing harder, working harder,
    The walk had become a slog.

One by one, my friends left me.

Some sat down by the road,
    Saying they had gone far enough.
Some kept going,
    But we lost contact in the fog.

I was alone, unable to see or hear,
    Carrying a heavy load,
        Climbing a never-ending hill.

And then – a voice.
In my head? In the fog? I couldn’t tell.

“What do you want?” it asked.

Make the fog go away.
    “I can’t do that,” it said.

Make the hills level out.
    “I can’t do that.”

Make my load lighter.
    There was a pause, then …
        “I could do that, but I’m not going to.”

I considered that for a long time, in silence, as I struggled on.

Finally I said, Then I have one last request.
    “What’s that?”

Walk with me.

“I can do that.”

The voice became a presence
And the presence became a person

And as we walked on together

The fog seemed to clear,
    The hills seemed to level,
        The load seemed to lighten.

But perhaps,

They all stayed the same, and it was I who changed

The more I listened for the voice
    And walked in the presence.

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