Lost in Tall Grass

By Laura Schulkind

She said she knew the way and so I followed,

up the swath of matted dried grass

into the hills above Los Olivos

where she had once devoured a new life.

 

But her old running route is overgrown,

and we weave among the heavy limbs of live oak,

grown impossibly far from their base,

now resting along the path.

 

Then, there is no path at all.

We track winding patches of bare earth,

thinking each time we have picked up the trail,

until it ends in a mass of thistle and piñon.

 

Finally, we give up and bushwhack down,

the bite of stinging nettles on our hands,

the dig of burrs in our socks.

Donna stomping ahead to scare off any rattlers,

 

which I appreciated

but thought overly dramatic,

until we reached the parking lot, where

talking with the locals

 

she grabbed the shovel leaning against the shed

and without so much as a gasp

brought it down with a thud,

severing the head of a young, lost rattler.

 

The young ones are the most dangerous she said,

don’t ration their venom,

spend it all

on just one bite.

 

She said it gently though,

perhaps reading well my consternation,

knowing I was scared not for me,

but for you.

___

Laura Schulkind received her JD from New York University, where she focused on public service law, and she has been practicing for over twenty-five years. For the past fifteen years, she has specialized in representing public school and community college districts throughout California. She is the president of the statewide professional organization, the California Council of School Attorneys, and is a sought-after speaker throughout the state. She also has two grown sons who continue to challenge and inspire her.

She writes poetry and fiction because, lawyer that she is, she believes in the power of a well-told story. However, in law she is entrusted with others’ stories. It is through poetry and fiction that she is able to share her own paths and struggles. She has benefitted greatly from the Berkeley Writers Circle. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The MacGuffin. Forge, Minetta, Eclipse and Talking River.


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