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Footprints on the road

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All roads lead to somewhere, though we cannot always tell
If the path that we have chosen will support and serve us well.
When we started out, this path was smooth and safe to walk –
And then we’d reach a junction where the path would always fork.

Do we pick the left or right; the narrow or the wide?
It’s hard to know without a map; without a walking guide.
So there I was, upon the road – I’d reached a crucial junction:
And then my legs stopped working – they simply would not function.

“Greetings,”came a voice from beyond a picket gate.
“I need to get to Somewhere and I’m running slightly late.
“I have a rather heavy bag.  Would you share the load?”
And then a man came through and stood beside me on the road.

“What’s beyond the gate?” I asked, for all I saw were trees.
“The house where I’ve been staying,” said the man with gentle ease.
“But now it’s time to walk for there are things to see and do.
“So here I am, arriving on this road and meeting you.”

I looked upon this man.  He very slightly seemed to glow.
His eyes were blue – like rainclouds – and his speech was calm and slow.
His skin was tanned, his face was bright.  His smile drew me in.
And quietly, although we’d never met, he felt like kin.

“So where’s this bag?” I said to him.  “I’ll help you for a while.”
His manner was so pleasant that I also had to smile.
“It’s here, on the ground,” he said and pointed to the path.
I looked and there was nothing there.   I started, then, to laugh.

He looked at me quite blankly and I saw he wasn’t joking.
Was he mad; hallucinating?  What had he been smoking?
I looked again and, as before, I couldn’t see a thing.
“Don’t worry,” he responded.  “It’s a bag of EVERYTHING:”

“EVERYTHING’s invisible.  It’s nothing you can see.
“But little pieces of it make the stuff of you and me.
“Those trees are little pieces of it.  So, too, is the road;
The sky; the Earth; the mountain range – that’s why it’s quite a load.

I looked across the vista to the mountains and the sky –
I did not believe this man but something in me whispered, “Try.”
So, slowly, I inhaled through the nose and closed my eyes.
And with them shut I found (to my amusement and surprise)

That there before me, on the ground, between me and this chap
Was a bag packed full of EVERYTHING and, on each side, a strap.
So down I reached and grasped a strap.  The stranger did the same.
The strap was hot and bright like an electric candle flame.

I straightened up and, gingerly, allowed my lids to lift.
And then I knew: my eyes had undergone a subtle shift:
The bag was still between us.  I could feel the handle’s heat,
As I stood there in my walking boots and he: in just his feet.

The day had got surreal like a lovely lucid dream
And the barefoot man stood smiling like a supersonic beam.
And then he laughed in such a way it filled me with delight.
He was showing me that EVERYTHING’s not heavy.  It is light.

That when you carry EVERYTHING in balance and in flow,
It shows you what’s to see and it shows you where to go.
“Which path, then?” he whispered as he nodded to the road.
And between the left and right there was a middle way that showed

That the path between all opposites is neither left nor right.
It is the middle way, the Taoist way.  It’s silver.  It is bright.
“Oh, my, I see it now.  My word!” I whispered then in awe.
“And all this time, I thought that I was looking for a door!”

And then we crossed the threshold like companions from the past.
I didn’t see this coming.  It was quick and it was fast.
And though I veer sometimes left and sometimes right as well,
I understand that there’s no Heaven.  Nor is there a Hell.

I see the world of opposites that dance with one another.
Every light has shadow.  Every sister has a brother.
Every day has nights between.  Lost is always found.
Yes and No are married.  Every silence has a sound.

I asked the man his name and he told me it was Stephen.
This seemed slightly odd to me and, also, slightly even.
So I try to walk the middle way as often as I can.
The balance it creates makes me a very happy man.

Dedicated to Stephen Russell aka The Barefoot Doctor
5th May 2013 ©Simon Welsh Poetry

Next poem in the series: The Zero Point Field
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