A Hike and a Lecture by Michael Ceraolo

from Euclid Creek Book Four

A Hike and a Lecture

A Monday evening in late June,
temperature in the mid-70s
(a few degrees below average)
I make the short walk 
from my house to the park
The hike is led,
                       and the lecture given,
by a retired archaeologist from the area
      along with the sponsoring Metroparks,
provided some pre-hike refreshments

There were some on the hike who,
despite having reached adulthood,
had not learned how to dress themselves,
wearing sandals and even flip-flops
for the trek over
                 exposed tree roots
                 moss-covered rocks
                 decaying leaves
                 up and down hills,
with broken glass left by those
who love to foul beautiful things
                                                (I'll bet
there was a substantial overlap between those so dressed
and those who just showed up for the event
without doing the required pre-registration,
but that can't be confirmed)
no one sustained any injuries

For me,
the highlight of the hike
was sitting in a rock shelter,
we were told was of Berea sandstone
and had been occupied periodically
over the last 10,000 years
(It has been occupied quite recently,
at least temporarily,
the occupants had left graffiti
and even more broken glass)

Talk of petroglyphs in the area,
possibly having been here but now erased,
led to a question of whether
the graffiti would still be here
in two thousand years,
after some technical explanations
of how the weather affected
writings left outside on rock,
the archaeologist,
                          with a laugh,
admitted he didn't really know,
an admission that only increased
his credibility in my eyes

I imagined,
                 not the recent miscreants,
those who had lived in the shelter
in the distant past
It offered some protection
against the weather,
it was not water-tight:
                                  we could see
where water dripping on the rock wall
had caused the iron in the rock to rust
And the wind wouldn't always be
blowing over the top of the shelter

No tool or weapon fragments were seen;
they were either buried out of sight,
worn away by millennia of weather,
scavenged by souvenir hunters,
taken away by their makers when those makers
moved to another location

Even on a summer night
it would get cool after sunset;
           exposed or semi-exposed,
around a fire in the depths of winter
waiting for a mammoth or mastodon
to happen by,
                    they had the usual ways
of our race (the human) to amuse themselves:
sports and games
music and dance
(Ten thousand years later,
                                       we still
have only the same amusements,
the technology of both delivering
and experiencing them
is constantly changing)

I think of those lost stories and songs,
wonder if,
                despite the increasing
sophistication of said technology,
our stories and songs will still
be here in ten thousand years,
like the archaeologist I can't come up with
a satisfactory answer,
I'll continue to write as if they will

Bio:  "Michael Ceraolo is a retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had one full-length book (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press) and a few chapbooks published (among the chapbooks is Cleveland Haiku, from Green Panda Press). He has a second full-length book, Euclid Creek Book Two, forthcoming from unbound content press, and is continually working on new and existing poetry projects.

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