Mineral Springs Trail

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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.