Hollowtop Smoke Signals

Seventy first Spring

At long last, the first warmth of spring is here. Ambling down a secluded country lane, I am alone — yet not lonely. The smell of verdant grass, carried on unseen currents, permeates my lungs.

Hanging wearily in the evening sky; the sun tips toward earth’s waiting cradle.

Power lines beside the lane, reflecting the sharply angled solar rays, illumine the way with graceful silvery arches. Birds fly westward, as moths to a flame, their wingtips glistening like fluid crystal. Barbed wire fences gleam not unlike colossal spider webs, strung between the wooden posts.

Further down the road now, the sun floats atop distant mountains. It seems to pause for just a moment, to bid adieu the lighted realm. Then, in a blaze of crimson, reluctantly succumbs to the inevitable. And every bird seems stirred to song; a deep-throated salutation to a day waning, never again to be seen.

It’s here now! The bewitching hour is upon the land. That mystical span between light and darkness, when all shape and form submits to haze and hue. Edges flow together in shadows and all life appears a dream--a glorious illusion. And, I am left suspended in that eternal moment between real and surreal.

Finally, stars and moon cement the night. An inky curtain descends, encompassing all that is and isn’t. The avian choir stilled now. Each breath comes slower--fuller. My mind drifts on silent notes. I sense the sap flowing within the nearby trees.

And, I stand fixed in the center of the road--my weathered hand clutching at the Milky Way! Not yet ready to lose the all-too-fleeting rebirth of youthfulness that accompanies every spring. While within, my heart warmly reminisces seventy-one fragrant springs, of which, not one was earned.


Art lives in Harrison, Montana.  His essays, stories, and poetry have been published in newspapers, journals, literary magazines and on-line magazines.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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