Each hike has a shape to it, a narrative.
Three days after a doc dug
melanoma out of his shoulder,
he called me to hike with him
to Bear Paw Cave,
an easy mile along the Manzana
but then three steep ones
to the ridge-top on a hot trail
swarming with deer flies.
Yet I had no reason to question why,
our old men’s love for hiking
in the mountains unspoken.
At the burn area he took photos
of bright wildflowers
growing out of charred soil.
Later, as we shinnied our way
up the rock face to the cave,
him favoring his healing shoulder,
me boosting his butt from below,
I saw the images of bear paws and antlered animals,
the red scorpion painted beneath a black roof dotted
with patterns of white, constellations,
maybe, as seen a thousand years ago,
another reason for him to show me this holy place,
of wildflowers that follow fire
and quail calling out to one another,
watching their young.