The Man Who Stopped

by Michael Kelly Reneer

this end of the road comes nearer
becoming trees on either side
and footsteps winding among them
to where the lost men hide

the sun is high overhead
shining down through the leaves
like red-gold waterfalls
lifted by such slightest breeze

and there is one skeleton
propped up as a puppet would be
leaning back at the end of the road
for those who reach the end to see

he could not have gone on
nor permitted to return home
too broad to navigate the trees
and exiled to roam

so it is said he sat
relaxed against an old oak
he must have been without food
or warmth in shadows cloak

watching all the fools trudge on
lost into the wood
seeing those who stopped
returning to what homes they could

because this skeleton
he was the man who stopped
he walked the road until the end
and then against the tree he flopped