Out jogging one day in a quiet wood,
On my second wind and feeling good,
I was one with God!...until my foot
Was snagged in the path by a treacherous root.
I crashed with a thud, a gasp and a lurch,
There in a woods of oak and birch.
I had crashed before, as joggers do
In driveways or streets you're running through.
You jump to your feet, though you've skinned your knee,
Embarrassed, lest someone in town should see
The mighty athlete flat on his butt
With bleeding nubs or minor cut.
You jog away quickly on your way
And suck up the pain, as if to say,
"Accidents never happen to me,
In the land of the brave and the home of the free."
So now I had crashed with a thud and rolled
In the autumn foliage, orange and gold.
Twigs and leaf-meal were stuck to my clothes.
A trickle of blood came out of my nose.
I wanted to see if I was hurt
Or sprained, beneath the sweat and dirt.
But before I could tell, I was up again,
And without brushing off or checking for pain,
I was off down the path, confused and mad,
And strangely...embarrassed!... just as bad
As if I had fallen in the middle of town,
Though I knew I was out there all alone.
Up in the trees, a squirrel and a jay
Went heedless about their busy day,
Quite unconcerned...or metaphysically caught,
As a runner might this singular thought:
If a wilderness jogger falls in the trees,
And nobody's there and nobody sees,
Whom?!...does he jump to his feet to beguile...
As if he could with his weak-ass smile...
Pretending he isn't hurt or confused?
Who's there to taunt him or be amused?
Alone in the woods, a pratfallen fool
Ought to be safe from ridicule.
Does he bring someone with him, unaware,
Alter-ego or god...who could possibly care?
How the woods, on skinned-up knees, embarrassment no one sees.