He walked past me on the paved road that transects the rainforest

as I stood on the side inhaling the scent of wet leaves.

Camera held up near my heart ready to capture the moment

when that dancing butterfly lands on the flower nearby –

not this time,

it flutters away in another direction.


I return to the road, grateful for the time to be at peace in my head,

exercising my senses among the green hills of Ranomafana.

Directionless, I also have spent the last hour fluttering,

stopping here and there along the vegetated border,

finding pleasure in the complicated simplicity of non-human beings.


Now, with the barefoot man ahead,

I debate the next steps my hiking boots will take.

Should I hold back in selfish solitude

or return to the world of followers?


I walk slowly considering the situation, assessing.

He is limping, one foot always on its ball.

One leg shorter than the other.

Tropical sunlight bounces off the cement beneath his calloused feet.

His body produces a shadow, a morphed form, appearing ready to spread wings.

I bring the camera to my heart,

grateful for the simple moment with a complicated being.

~ Patricia M. Paladines

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