- On Anselm's Trail at Daybreak
I looked down and saw herbeside the creek, suddenly youngagain, wrapped in her bluecloak. She stood gazingover the pasture and up to the ridgeas if she knew these parts wellenough to name cove, valley,switchback and summit,each living thing native to thisplace, the wild creaturesbiding their time until springand the tame ones who still dreamedof stories round ancient fires,under a blanket of sky storiesthey could see spreading abovethem if they raised their eyes.Then she turned and I sawshe was not young at all,but a woman my age,with a slight limp from hipjoint or knee gone arthritic,a staff in her hand on whichshe leaned as I leaned onmine. I knew Buffalo Cow Womancame to the Sioux as a maidenwho aged with the seasons,departing an old woman,combing back hale as a young [End Page 54] girl. But Our Lady? Hereshe was, climbing the bank,just ahead of me, bent now,and walking more slowly,as I knew someday I wouldhobble this trail, breathing hardbut still breathing. She vanishedaround the turn, back into fogor a rock crevice, into the storybeginning again with herselftaking shpae on this trail, in the hereand now, this moment,this earth I walk into sunrise. [End Page 55]
Kathryn Stripling Byer was the author of six collections of poetry and The Vishnu Bird, a chapbook released in 2015. She served as North Carolina's fifth poet laureate from 2005-2009, and received the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance award and the North Carolina Book Award for poetry. She lived beside the Tuckasegee River in the North Carolina mountains, and died on June 5, 2017.