Life Is Good
By Bill Kirk
She wakes early,
Before first light
And slowly makes her way to the kitchen
To start the coffee ritual.
Her footsteps are muffled by thick, woolen socks
Pulled on out of habit—
Even in summer.
The house is quiet
And will be for another hour,
Except for the occasional creak or pop
In floors, ceilings and walls,
Just as old bones are also sometimes wont to do.
It’s odd that those noises always seem to be
Upstairs or in the next room—
Present but never proximate,
As if the house wants the attention—
Letting you know
It should not be taken for granted.
What makes those noises anyway—
In bones and boards?
Are people like houses when they get old?
Come to think of it,
Old ships are like that, too,
What with their snaps and cracks
From movement on the water,
Even when safely sheltered.
She feels that way sometimes—
Just an old girl with ancient ribs and joints
Making noises as all the pieces and parts
Settle and resettle into place.
But not today.
Today the noises don’t matter.
She has no time for feeling old.
For this day, she has fifty miles ahead of her—
On foot; uphill and down,
Over rocky, narrow trails
Carved out through the heavy underbrush
Of ancient forests by pack mules, horses and pioneers.
Today, she will join the company
Of thousands of her comrades,
Both past and present,
Once again, experiencing a level of
Anticipation, pain and exhilaration
Shared by few.
But now in this quiet moment,
Like no other in its simplicity,
She savors the first steamy sips
Of rich, dark coffee laden with
Fresh cream and sugar—
The steady warmth radiating from her core.
Cradling a comfortable old mug in her hands,
She closes her eyes, thankful for this day.
Then, as if in prayer,
She imagines the start of her long day’s journey—
The steady cadence during twelve hours
Of her 80,000 foot strikes,
As she leaves her own transitory yet enduring
Marks on the trail—
The next first steps of the rest of her life.
It’s almost time to lace up.
Life is good.