Mineral Springs Trail

Our boy raises the fern’s vivid array in a ceremonial way,
Its spine curved by its own small weight, its apex waving almost
Imperceptibly in a humid breeze, pinnules cut like crystals

Climbing from a cavern floor; a blade acute as a glaive wielded
Across a field of war. Late sunlight rumoring through hemlocks
Ignites it like a torch an instant in shifting shadows.

He sets the still wet stem of the frond in the clean hollow
Of a deer femur he salvaged searching among granite
That rose to a grotto carved by springs over a million years

Into the mountainside. He leads us down steps molded by roots, scepter
At his side: Prince of Ferns, you will rule here forever in this one
Moment of your tiny courage—may you learn to live by it,

And may we be allowed to abide here with you as long as we may
In our memories, and follow you down, and be as brave as you,
As we make our way, day by day, into deepening darkness.

Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert is the author of four collections of poetry, Sixty Sonnets (2009), All of You on the Good Earth (2013), Caligulan (2015), winner of the Poets' Prize, and Last One Out (2019). He lives in Philadelphia where he works as a rare book dealer.
Ernest Hilbert

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Author: Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert is the author of four collections of poetry, Sixty Sonnets (2009), All of You on the Good Earth (2013), Caligulan (2015), winner of the Poets' Prize, and Last One Out (2019). He lives in Philadelphia where he works as a rare book dealer.