"A Love Poem for My Son at Wilburn Ridge"

If you were a wild pony,

you would be wilder than I am by now—

out there on the other side of the mountain

looking for a greener pasture

and your own mare.

You might be drinking water from a creek

at this very moment.

I would no longer be following you,

nudging you away from humans

who stand with cameras and smiles,

nudging you with the weight of my belly

as I turn a corner where we will climb the ridge.

I would not be writing a poem about you,

although I think I would recognize you

if our paths crossed on the mountain.

But you are a grown man and not a wild pony,

and I am not the old gray mare.

Still, I remember your own lithesome legs

and how they galloped up this trail

even as I trudged, a little slow, behind you.

You always knew I would be there,

not so far behind.

I always knew you would be up ahead,

not so far out of reach.

Years come and years go.

I am even slower now and alone,

a hiker who seeks the company of wild animals.

I return to this meadow once a year, son,

and watch the ponies with their foals.

I remember how it was.

Those were the days when I would follow you anywhere

even if the top of the mountain

was as high as Virginia gets.

You remember how it was

when there was nothing but blueberries

at the end of our hike

and dreams of even longer trails and taller mountains.

About the author

Felicia Mitchell makes her home in the mountains of southwest Virginia, where she teaches at Emory & Henry College. She writes about the natural world, family, myth, the medical world, and at times a combination of all of the above. Waltzing with Horses by Press 53 is her recent poetry collection. Learn more at feliciamitchell.net.

Felicia Mitchell