19 Kilometers

we walked to Sealers Bay. Four of us – all women
bleeding Madonnas on a pilgrimage in the rain. Together yet alone
each to her own journey
moving like the floods of 2011, ready to take out any obstruction
mud sucking at our feet, rainforest leeches suckling our blood like desperate children
the rhythm of my feet set off a reverie about how I lost my mind just a moment ago,
then found it. Blood pumping in my ears, heart pounding like thunder
The sweat running down my neck made me think of you…wondering where, how, who?
a futile fancy
still the rainforest clings to me, feet echoing on the boardwalk
the sound of running water filled with tannins
emotions of the forest flow beneath my feet to Sealers Bay
a beach once stained with the blood of whales lies calm and blue, deceptive
a moment of sunshine found me sprawled on the sand, waves of exertion washed over me
the repose was fleeting.
nature interrupted sending a shower and a chill up my spine
A journey is rarely one way and retracing my steps is like retracing a lifetime
…would it have been better if?..
eventually I turn my mind skyward to a flock of black cockatoos screeching like banshees at the women trudging one foot in front of the other in a winter forest
nineteen kilometres of contemplation can quieten a busy mind. It’s the number of surrender, and endurance
the feeling of my toenail lifting in my boot is strangely cathartic. Like a mistress
how pain focuses thoughts on the detail
I see tiny red Correas, the sex organs of plants, there for the pleasure of others
my buttocks and calves scream as the incline of the hill steepens, spurring me on
pleasure in pain makes you forget yourself,
and the forest
there’s just breathe and movement and rhythm

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