In a wood of yellow trees, two long-acquainted friends
Stride a long black path, and search its length for stones
The eldest, white with age, has walked this path before.
And though it’s aged him much, it’s made his body strong.
He carries the burden now, of all the stones they’ve found.
It’s heavy in his hands, and makes him furrow his brow,
and stroke his chin and grunt a soft and plaintive “hmm.”
His eyes look toward the path, and search it inch by inch.
He’ll add a pale white stone, and pass the burden on.
Or else he’ll quit the lot, and the wager will be done.
The younger watches him, his hair still black as slate,
And wonders if he too, will grow stronger in his age.
He placed the first black stone in that burden hours ago,
But could not have made it grow to what it is all on his own.
He knows that the old man will not quit the burden now.
And soon another stone will be added to the load,
And then he’ll take that burden, and will carry it again.
He watches as his teacher seems for once to break a sweat.
The stones he found today were large, he placed them each with pride,
But still his elder’s stride is powerful and long,
His eyes are sharp and peircing as they scour across the path
And find the stone that’s biggest, as white as his own hair,
The younger makes a burden for himself along the way,
To test his strength against the coming struggle and prepare.
He loads it as it was when he last passed the burden on,
And adds one more to see if he can handle what’s to come.
The load confounds him greatly and he struggles against its weight,
And wonders if he might be forced to quit the burden soon,
And leave the stones along the path, the wager now complete.
A crack disturbs his struggle, as a stone joins many more.
The elder passes on the burden to the younger’s hands.