Ralph La Rosa
“I have traveled far in Concord.“
— H. D. Thoreau
Come and walk this path with me,
wherever it may lead — it’s fall,
my favorite time for pilgrimage.
Attune your senses. And if you dare,
leave thought behind, for I have traveled
westward paths before and know
that instinct makes the most of them.
You’re ready? It’s a trying walk,
but sanative for those sans terre,
who wander through uncharted woods
and wasted lands. You walkers-errant,
come! Let’s shoulder through this hedge.
Perhaps we’ll see a holy land,
find the way a la Sainte Terre,
where once, despite constraining creeds,
I strolled into a primal grove,
the only source of Saunterer’s Apples,
and lost myself amidst the trees
until I found the wind-fall fruit —
hallowed by its tang, my tongue
and lips were freed to sing of it.
Outside La Rosa’s Shop, my father sighed
and squeezed my hand, for in that musty shed
he’d worked beside my grandpa — they had plied
the cobbler’s trade until my father wed.
The dust motes swirled through hot and acrid air,
mute witnesses that on this summer day
my father finally dared to take me there,
when I turned five, from many miles away.
He let my hand slip from his sweaty grip
when Grandpa turned and dropped his hammer, stared,
then spoke Sicilian to me, touched my lip,
and slowly mouthed the given name we shared.
He rummaged in a dusty workbench drawer
and pulled out tattered, yellowed paper sacks,
then smiled when handing me a Hershey bar
that looked as old as I was, white as wax.
My father, in the shadows, out of sight,
reached down and took my hand. Back on the street,
I saw his darkening mood in midday light,
his pale and tightened lips, unsteady feet.
Ignored by Grandpa, my father hadn’t spoken.
As we walked, I gripped his lifeless hand,
not knowing that the Hershey was a token
of what it costs to leave a father’s land.
Ralph La Rosa resides in Los Angeles, where spends most of his time day dreaming and writing. His previous poems in The Chimaera were “Shadow Bears” and “Engaged by Rage”.