View from

Walking the Butter Mill Trail

(cuatrok77’s “Vegetation of Florida”)

I sometimes think I don’t belong here/in this wood–that the tree’s knots/are frowns grown for me, or the leaf crunch/is a worm cracking a crass joke at my expense.”

Back in these woods feels like

anywhere but Tallahassee.

It starts with cypress vines,

a ravine, a puttering brook,

and a trail that looms

before washing into a glade of ferns.

An aquifer’s hatch lies close at hand 

and water sneaks into the bog

–ooze quickening to sludge to mud.


In crevices like split logs

are two bones bleached 

and jutting out of the canyon wall

like the rungs of an unfinished ladder.

One bone protruded, rounded at the end,

while the other bent in

like trees the day after an ice storm.

Ridges veined the bone 

which I could almost realize

—or maybe it was dirt. 

They looked like stones

graffitied white,

but in the creek’s molassassing,

silt sticks.


I stepped down to cross the crevice

and brook rushing from me.

Grasping a vine, I went to step on a stone

and then cross to the other side,

yet this was a trap lay for me,

Whether by the brook or the frogs

I know not. But a shaped clod of mud

sunk under my weight,

and for a moment only my cry 

could be heard on the Butter Mill Trail.


I sometimes think I don’t belong here

in this wood–that the tree’s knots

are frowns grown for me, or the leaf crunch

is a worm cracking a crass joke at my expense.

The wire fence by the entrance

is barren, and I missed it the first

ten times I walked here.

So I’ll stop here, and just look.


Across is a hill,

where the trail falls away

now covered in sweet gums 

and mokernut hickory and magnolias,

after that, I assume rabbits and deer

sit down for coffee and talk weather,

which is enough for me.


Samuel Schaefer is a poet and journalist in Tallahassee, Florida and has previously published poetry at Voeglin View and The Tower Light. He also posts on Substack

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