The Woods

by Grant McLaughlin

The trails near the Rec. Center in Oxford MS 
never lack for wonder or sights
of diverse life living in seemingly endless harmony.

I find myself walking off the beaten path,
looking at the trees and plant life 
that aren't native to my Texas home.

Every step is another twig or dead leaf
being crushed underneath a boot.
Alerting rabbits and deer to my presence 
in their open home.

I place my hands on the tree bark,
soft yet jagged with many 
spots of moss and cracks that run like
river beds up and down the tree trunk.

The grass smells fresh but 
never once has it been touched by a blade.
It is tall, and so old it grows yellowish brown
as it hardens becoming like a wall or thicket 
for small animals to hide in.

There is a bike path along the powerlines 
I like to walk.

You come to a creek down in the valley 
that a man must have made 
because there is heavy machinery broken down
and rusting from years of rain.

The valley sounds like music.
Everything sings of life,
and death as the coyotes come down
the high hills surrounding the small valley.

The moon casts shadows,
giving the trees a power to 
cool the sweat from my brow when
the trails become hot and sticky.

Sticky like the tree sap 
that ants and beetles drink
to collect sugar for their 
microscopic empires that stretch the globe.

You can almost taste the freedom 
in the air if you couldn't hear 
cars bustling down the highway 
less than a mile from the edge of the woods.

Here there is peace though,
like none other on earth.
for no guns are fired here,
and the only sound is that of feet planting on the ground,
claws scratching at flesh,
paws dashing across the forest floor,
wings flapping against the wind.
Grass growing,
coyotes howling,
birds chirping.

Here there is peace.
None other found here but the 
soul of man breathing steady and heartily.
There is only peace.

Published by Grant McLaughlin

Poet and Journalist. email me at

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