We leave the crowded, paid lot
and migrate with others
in their assorted groups,
speaking assorted tongues,
across a highway
and down to a rocky beach
where a few are swimming,
even in October.
Our daughter’s favorite thing
the whole day
is this beach:
she clutches stones in her hand
feeling their heft,
she kicks her feet back and forth in the sand,
creating half sand-angels as she sits,
and she holds up leaves, sticks, and stones
to see if they will make a sound
when joined by her hands.
We join a path around the pond,
and pass people in both directions.
How strange it is,
and I’m sure I’m not the first to mark it,
that so many gather here
with family, friends, cameras
to see a place famous
for solitary communion.
There were moments of that quiet.
People gazed upon the granite markers
of Thoreau’s invisible cabin,
and read the words of his placed
here and there.
And there are places to see a cormorant,
close up and unconcerned,
used to the pilgrims who visit.
And there are moments when we look through the tree trunks
and see only the pond in the sunlight.
Resuming our walk on the path,
I press my palm against tree trunks
and feel their bark, individual,
full of life. Our little one fusses,
and I sit on a stone
and breastfeed her in a moment
both private and not private.
We bring her to the beach,
once more before we go,
and she concentrates,
with nature’s bits and pieces.
We breathe the scent of the pine needles in.
We feel the sun on our faces.
We change our daughter’s diaper
in the trunk of the hatchback,
and drive home.