By DENNIS HARROD
At a trailhead leading to a path through woods and fields
flush with late summer’s abundance of gold and green,
where the wind rustled leaves and shook a few loose,
and a scent of fall hinted at what was to come, someone
had scrawled a message of despair meant to harm any who read it,
or perhaps it was meant to please those filled with equal hate or fear
of people whose color or sex or beliefs were different.
And despair spread in stomach-turning waves, especially
in all of those targeted by the message, who had come to spend
time in the woods, and in the fields, hoping to freely breathe the forest air.
A woman lately arrived in the community came to the trail
with sunny ideas of a long slow walk and found herself instead a target
and turned away, nature’s open offering turned to cruelty that was
anything but indifferent.
Dennis Harrod is a co-founder of Sense of Decency. On a nature trail in Central New York last year, he (and others) saw that someone had scrawled racist graffiti on the sign at the trailhead.