The Marked Trail

I can imagine her upon the path, 

The can of blue paint dangling from her hand,

Her cupped fingers holding the wire handle. 

Her other hand grasping the dripping brush, 

Flecks of azure on her snug hiking boots,

Her shirt, and the legs of her tan workpants.

Marking the trees, a reassuring sign,

Rarest of moments: unsolicited

Advice on where to go that turns out well. 

At one point, two bright slashes, twenty feet

Between them at the most, signal the way,

And I am puzzled by her thinking here.

Was she concerned I might get lost inside

Those twenty feet? And starve and freeze and die?

Or was her mind caught up in things less rote

Than pacing off the yards and slapping paint?

Or were there reasons I cannot divine,

From in the limits of the things I know?

But, mostly, I just marvel at the trees,

And all the useless things they do not think.

The marked trees do not wear it as a badge,

Boasting of their chosenness and honor,

The great importance of their assigned task.

The unmarked do not call the marked ones stained,

Inferior, the cellar of the caste. 

The trees know that their fate is in their roots.

In that hard truth is accident enough. 

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