When cloud-tossed skies darken and descend
Upon the baleful branches of winter's naked wood,
Comfort is a wind-snatched dream
For one who wraithlike passes.
Alone he goes, eddying leaves about his grey cloak's hem.
Every creature that perceives his presence
Pauses as he passes.
Through thicket and through dale, he pushes on until
The goal of all his errantry lies before his visage pale.
Alone he stands before a clearing, surveying with delight
The fitting features of his chosen site.
He garners stones and sets them in a circle round about.
In the centre of this ring, he brushes clean
One grey and silver-speckled stone.
The sky has hardened to a curtain
Pressing down and blotting out all light.
Silence fills the air with static tension.
Gathering his height, he stands above the central stone
And brings a rowan staff crashing on its lifted brow.
The splintered shards go flying from his grasp;
An answering crack blasts from the sky.
A stroke of lightning tunnels down
And splits the stone in two halves on the ground.
A current bubbles up in gleaming, twisting ripples.
Once set free, it can't be stopped, and rushes headlong
Through the ring of stones hemming in its source.
Within a space of thirty yards, the rill becomes a stream;
Farther on it broadens out into a life-sustaining force.
The traveller cannot be seen; no sign of him remains.
But downstream in the play of silver-spangled water,
One rainbow-sided trout lunges from the current.
Twisting in mid-air, he glances back in parting
At the clearing ringed in stone.
©2016 Michael Fraley
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