A Log

By Elias Orrego

Editor's Note: This poem was first published on the author's personal blog, Writer's Digestion.

A log, carried by time
and the river,
sat propped between two rock walls.
The top of the log touched the top
of the falls
I followed the slant of dark wood
with my eyes
comparing the distance of the ridges
and knots
with the strength of each finger
that clenched
at the thought of
the climb.

Chest deep in the pool
being splashed by falling river
the log
and me
staring each other down
through the drip
None above, and none were behind me
who knew this was my chosen path
Taking hold of the challenge
I clasped hands with the trunk
and started my upward climb to the top.
Each knot that I grabbed
made a difference,
some were friendly
                others poked at my palms
        Some were slimed by trickles
When I reached those and slipped
The walls to the sides
became stepping stones to hold my feet
Breaking moss murked the water below,
but the loudest splash I heard was my own

The water felt deeper the second time in.

But a rippling thought in my mind
buoyed me out of the teasing
waters, back onto the tree
I remembered was dead.
The resolve, "I can do it"
Kept my limbs stretched
and reaching
holding my own on my steady
I tried double hard
to keep arms from flapping
in fear!
I might fall! before winning
The rest
of the smooth-sailing plateau
only seen in my head.
every member of the body climbed
enlisted in the battle:
        man versus log
        man versus water
        man versus sinking into the deep
beneath my feet that seemed a whirlpool of despair
from toes to chin
                every foot I ascended
I was closer to my goal
but the crowd below called me
out. Chanting words of broken
bones, drowning
or cuts that infect
or bleed me out.
What was sweat? What were tears?
They all became river.
Through the mist that patted me on
the back hairs that once
stood on end
layed back down,
on my final tug to the zenith.
Prayers uttered in silence were answered.
Grit teeth started smiling.
Muscles strained and beyond could now slumber
a moment
in my own pool of Bethsaida.
I rushed through the silence
of the victory of that log
to join my companions upstream.
No one cared I took longer.
No one noticed I struggled.
None were aware I was inches away from being carried out by
a helicopter
or dying from and itching,
bacterial, blood-clotting infection!
In an uncomfortable sleep two days later.

None but One
who was with me
knew of the battle I fought.
One who knew
every strain
        every struggle
because He had been with me
every mistake of a hold
and every good step
of the way.


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