General Poetry posted January 12, 2018

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Marks in the Willow Bark

by James H. Oldfield

Rhyming Poem Contest Winner 
Then, we wandered, hands entwined,
through shadows spilled on waking ground.
They danced like spectral marionettes,
across our paths, and all around.

The leaves and gentle breeze were kin,
and whispered nothings, high above,
whilst we etched names in willow bark,
as tribute to our endless love.

The world was somewhere else, just then,
beyond our laughter, out of sight.
It never touched that infant spring,
beneath the trees, in waning light.


I stumble on through bramble vines;
alone with ghosts of warmer days.
The leaves fragment, beneath my feet --
more dust to join the morning haze.

The call of memory brought me here,
but, Lord, I don't know why I came.
Perhaps there's comfort still to find:
in knowing nothing stays the same;

in seeing paths, once so well trod,
engulfed by time and ceaseless growth;
our footprints veiled from careless view,
or washed away -- still better, both.

With somewhat disappointing ease,
I find the glade, now choked in weeds.
And yet -- it's, somehow, just the same,
a fact my fragile mind concedes.

A youth enshrined in vaulted wood,
though aged branches now stand bare,
and, at its heart, the willow sits,
its tendrils grasping everywhere.

They claw my face and shroud my view,
as I creep on to where we stood --
where chippings linger, past their use,
beneath initials, etched in wood.

The lines feel almost sharp to touch,
as if we'd left them yesterday.
Enduring still, beyond our love,
they sing of summers washed away.

Of feelings faded, over time --
words misplaced, and then forgot;
memories, like that displaced bark,
long cast aside, condemned to rot.

For just a moment we are there,
still crouching at the willow's base.
We step away, with lovers' pride,
and note our footprints, sealed in place.

I think I glimpse these footprints, now,
as wind whips up the forest floor;
but soon the leaves fall back again,
and I return, alone once more.

Rhyming Poem
Contest Winner

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