Mindego Mountain

by Joe Cottonwood
Flashlight in hand, 
I follow the boy
toward stars.

The backpack gains weight
as we climb. I say, 
“There’s Cassiopeia.”
He says, “Uh huh.”

A sound like a painful letting go, 
then a rush, a weighted thud
from the forest.
I’m spooked but he calls back
“It was a branch breaking off, Dad.”

I want to protect him from slashers,
lions, tumbling ghosts
but my beam only reaches 
the reflectors receding 
on his rapid heels
as he rises
against gravity.
Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. Nights, he writes. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California where he built a house and raised a family. Currently, he raises grandchildren. His most recent book is 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses.  His website: joecottonwood.com

© 2017, Joe Cottonwood