I came across a long array
of people moving through the darkened woods
as snow pelted bough and face.
They did not stop to eat or light a fire for warmth
but kept moving, yet not tripping
on their long scarves that dangled to their feet.
They gathered around a large rock
with hands outstretched
as if warming fingers near a hearth.
And there they slept till dawn
in circles around the stone
and snored like birds in song.
I tiptoed among them and observed
not a single pack with clothes or food.
Not a child carrying a cherished toy.
I watched as the snow
layered blankets upon them
and wondered if they would rise with the sun.
When the night turned darkest before the dawn
they rose as one and shuffled off
to where one tree set distant lights upon its trunk.
They entered the tree one by one
as if passing through a door.
I stood alone among the oaks.
copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney