Excursion out of Loch Shiel and Mingarry Park
by Tobi Alfier



And gingerly he steps among the rocks along the stream,
perfect s-turns winding through a green, green valley
dotted with sheep. Sheep along the road above him
graze the grass as they please; some promenade straight down
the center of the narrow one-lane, cars in either direction
echoing the turns and twists of the water below. Drivers are
alert, patient, respectful of the animals belonging to many crofts
and to this valley.

A song plays inside his head to help him balance.
His arms free to teeter him from stone to stone,
he is a grounded aerialist, almost crossed and looking
for a place to rest.

He will lunch on whatever Emma folded into his pack—
he had left as light began to make a tiered layering of dark clouds,
muted sun dotted with the tops of hills, and green below.
She’d handed him a pack. To keep your arms free, she’d said.
Fergie, bed-headed and hung over, was hunched over a steaming
cup in the kitchen. He’d straightened up to wish him good adventures
and see-you-soon.

Our traveler guesses from the powdered sugar handprint
on Fergie’s black pants that at least one jammy shortcake
awaits his dessert. He is impatient, anticipatory, hungry.
He has crossed the stream and found a lovely dry spot.
With warmth on his face, and the gentle reflection
off the breeze-murmured waters on the Loch in the distance,
he sits…





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