Island Path — photo by author

I dreamt of walking
along the shores in fall.

Through the meadow grasses bowed and silver with dew
where the black-eyed susans bravely stand.

My hands brushing
the splendor of goldenrod spikes,
asters like a scatter of pale stars.

Then among the flame bright birch,
graceful and fluid as dancers.
I would have stayed there,
in the light with them
but the shadows called
and darkness drew me on.

The forest like a ruined cathedral
hung with tapestry of moss and lichen
vaulted chambers leading on and I followed
knowing, as one does in dreams.

A sea of light beyond the stony beach,
the moss and shadow of the forest,
my steps silent.

The ruby gleam of cranberries,
nestled among the mosses,
drew me to kneel.

I picked handfuls of them into the tails of my shirt.
Carried them in the makeshift sack,
like a thief through the glowering woods and shaggy blowdowns.

I woke remembering;
how Karen taught us to make cranberry sauce.
The way her grandmother taught her in Norway.
Karen was 80 then and we were teens.

Just sugar and berries and stir.
stir until the berries turn translucent, swell
and burst without being pressed or crushed.
A lesson, perhaps, though she never said,
and we, being teens, never asked.

We made crepes,
eggy thin batter,
golden brown, crisp around the edges
curled like windblown leaves.
And ate them spread with cranberry sauce
like the memory of summer
sweetly tart and lingering.

I dreamt of walking once again,
along the shores in fall.

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