Walk softly, the old woman said.
Leave nothing disturbed.
Children and warriors knelt near campfires
to be warmed by the wisdom of her life.
They left no path through green woods;
thanked Mother Earth when they hunted;
prayed the good soil of their bones
would replenish what was taken.
I think of my ancestors when I walk in forests.
I think how this land must have been graceful,
accepting the music of soft footprints on ground,
leaving nothing disturbed.
I think of them, too, when I walk here,
where wisdom of elders is locked in antiseptic halls,
and grey city streets are paved
with deep prints in stone.