Nori Odoi, Poetry

On Walking Through the Woods

in Deep Snow
    During a Blizzard
    Wearing Sneakers

by Nori Odoi

First observe:
That you have decided to do this
That the depth of snow varies
sometimes to your ankles
sometimes to your knees
sometimes to your hip
That there is an icy crust
sometimes it will hold you
sometimes it won’t
Sometimes it will hold you for a moment then break

That you can’t tell these things by looking
But only by taking a step
That you have decided to do this

When you look at your sneakers
See them transform into snowshoes
tight webs of sinew and ash
snow floating shoes
like the Hurons wove
Splay your toes wide
step forth broadly
step forth briskly
Fool the snow

Walk quickly so the crust will not collapse
But not so quickly you fall
Sometimes you will sink to your thigh

When this happens
do not fear
do not curse
be grateful for the moment
Breathe deeply and close your eyes
feel wind embrace you
feel crystal kisses covering your face
smell the purity snow brings
Then lift yourself and begin again

Do not look at your feet
Let them find their own path
Look forward, notice everything

See the twisted ruins of fern
how deep are they buried?
See the tangled knots of brush
can they support you?
See the snow hollows ringing trees
is there a surer way?
Let your eyes seek out your course
do not miss the silent guides
Do not miss the beauty

When you emerge, look back a moment

Breathe deeply
Give thanks for your journey
Let your laughter blow wildly with the wind

Then turn to the rest of your life

First observe:
That you have decided to do this
That life is sometimes shallow, sometimes deep
that you cannot tell this by looking
but only by taking a step
Let your laughter blow wildly with the wind
breathe deeply
give thanks
Do not miss the beauty