The Trek

By William Ogden Haynes


The rainforest is replete

with thick stands of bamboo,

cecropia trees and towering

branches of rosewood and mahogany.

Bright sunbeams from the canopy above

dissipate to incandescence

as they filter through the leaves to the forest floor.

Rocks and tree trunks are

dabbed with a spectrum of red, green,

purple and yellow butterflies and moths.

The calls of brightly feathered aracaris birds and toucans

punctuate the drone of white-lipped frogs.


My father carves a path

through the deep jungle,

his blade slashing the undergrowth

and I follow,

trying to keep pace.

Sometimes, if I dawdle,

preoccupied with a leaf or creature,

I lose sight of him,

and after running down the path,

he appears in the distance

rhythmically hacking

the tangled vegetation.


But today,

No matter how fast I run

I cannot catch him.

The path ends

at a dense wall of bamboo,

with my father’s machete

laying on the ground.

Lost and tired, I pick up the blade,

chop at the foliage

and begin to carve a trail.

I will not move too swiftly.

My son is behind me,

struggling to catch up.




William Ogden Haynes is a poet from Alabama and has published poetry in literary journals such as California Quarterly and PIF Magazine. His chapbook entitled Five Thousand Days has been accepted for publication in 2011 by Negative Capability Press in Mobile, AL. He has been invited to read his work at several arts festivals in the state and believes that the mark of a good poem is that, at the end, people feel glad they read or heard it. In a prior life he taught speech-language pathology at Auburn University and authored six major professional textbooks.

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