In the high-walled canyon there are wild horses,
unbranded, never ridden, whose manes burst
into flame when the sun crests the eastern rim.
The eco-tourist liability clause stipulates however
that only fit persons with certified climbing skills
are entitled to make the perilous two-day journey.
It is but a short walk from the camper to the cliff edge.
Morning coffee in hand, I train the telescope
at a steep angle, scanning the gloomy chasm.

Dazzled by the pure white mountains
I spurn the road that leads through olive groves
to the marble city with its cosy harbour.
Alas, the scenic route through the pass is closed
for the winter and some military guys on ski patrol
start laughing as I back down the slippery incline.
What then drove me as a youth to tramp barefoot
through the snow, shoes slung around my neck,
on the way to visit that crabby forest saint?

Ever the presumptuous ethnobotanist, I asked
the toothless old woman to spell out the word
for the gnarled roots piled in her market stall.
Her answer, according to the interpreter,
was that I would see the word for myself
if I ate enough of them raw at one sitting.
Chastened by the dreamweaver, today
when peering in the mirror, I see only
a glass sheet bonded to silver foil.

Douglas Smith, formerly a teacher of Anthropology at York University, is a homeopathic physician.and author of several books on alternative medicine. It is claimed (although Dissident Voice has no proof of this!) that Doug and his partner grow the best garlic in Haliburton County. Read other articles by Douglas.