The Gods of the Ways – a poem by Neile Graham

The Gods of the Ways

Say there's a trail and the walking
is easy. Say there's not and the way 
full of blocking deadfalls,  peaty 
puddles gnawing your boots, blackberry 
thickets insisting on tolls. A trail

and no trail. Five steps of pelting rain. 
Or of wonder. There's something you know 
and it matters. You don't and it doesn't. 
Couldn't. Never would. You, child, are 
what you are, and what you are
is becoming. So thread your way

through the dripping forest or saunter 
your passage. Drench yourself in all 
of its ways. Smell the dark cedar, 
the sodden leaf-mold, the sharp ache 
of your sweat. It's what will shape 

you, make you whatever being of 
hope or death you become. Laugh
 if you will. Choosing your way 
chooses you. Each step is what 
you will become. If you choose it.

Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination but currently lives in Seattle, Washington. Her publications include: four full-length collections, most recently The Walk She Takes (2019) and a spoken word CD, She Says: Poems Selected & New. She has also published poems in various physical and online magazines, including Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Mad Swirl, and Polar Starlight.

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