there was little indication
i was not a part of the sunlit green
moss covered bridge

afternoon
summer creeping
along the gorge

me
perfectly still
save the rise and fall
of grateful lungs
taking deep lustful breaths
of rushing creek below

my eyes set upon the soaring
white sycamore trees
where the indigenous people
of this carved miami valley
sought refuge
after glaciers melted

musing that
200 million years
isn’t so long
in the grand scheme

when my sacred peace was disturbed
by the sounds of new things

tremors caused by seven year old feet
across creaking boards

three little boys

too varied in appearance to be brothers
accompanied by an aloof
iPhone addicted mother
walking along oblivious behind them

i turned my head slowly
to observe the play
and
wait for the poem to come

the tallest of the prepubescent trio
crouched down
scooping up a daddy long legs spider
off the trail
before running onto the bridge

he set to taunting the other two boys
with the harmless creature
then dangled it toward his still absent
phone call mother
on whom
the gesture barely registered
a turn of her head

darkness came into his eyes

his gapped teeth gave way to a wicked laugh

as he cast the spider to its end
over the side of the bridge

the other two boys were distraught
over his brutality toward the arachnid

the youngest of them looked around
for an adult to whom he could run
for solace
for sense in the matter

choosing me and my quiet
over his uninvolved chaperone

he ran desperately toward my calm
to ask
if what his companion
had so cruelly
done to the spider
had killed it

could the spider survive
that fall?
he pleaded to me
hurriedly pointing to the water
tears streaming down his face
as if i were
the one
who made such choices

in that moment
i felt the age of my bones
older than pious pebbles
praying silently
in the stream
beneath us

i knelt down
so that i could look directly into his eyes
and said

no, son
i’m sorry
it’s likely
the spider did not survive the fall

but this moment
has more to teach us
about the nature of humans
than the nature of the spider
doesn’t it?

his brown eyes grew amber and wide
with new understanding
as he turned to look at his friend

the spider slayer
triumphant

in a low voice
uttering
…yes, m’am
…it does