At The Johnson Meadows Park

At the Johnson Meadows Park

They told us to try these paths,
to wander amidst all the flowering plants
on sedate trails, alongside a forest
so trained their branches
seem to reach out as you passed to shake
your hand; to walk past placards set
almost regularly, thirty yards apart,
with nature poems
praising fields brimming with small children
and the irregularly irregular flights of butterflies
for whom this park was evidently built.

I would stop, read poems, directions,
large signs with an endless array of rules.
Ah Jake, I say, they have you listed here:
All pets, and they mean dogs, must be in chains.
He looks up, feels a kind of chill, which, in truth, this place exudes.
He sticks by my side; and even when
one potential wagging friend, gagged and manacled
as they demand, passes by, he does not move,
but holds to “heel”, makes believe he’s similarly tied.

Today is different though. Perhaps the sunny weather,
and such an evidently gentle dog, is enough
to quell that dog-catcher response which snarls
at me and points to the prohibiting signs.
Well, we’ve come. We tried your roads.
They remind me of a nineteenth century British park.
So say farewell. Bark, Jake, bark! We’ll go back
now to the twisting brooks, the narrow trails, of Mountain Lakes.