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Torn World: First Day on the Trail
by Ellen Million

Dawn comes early,
earlier than anyone wants to be up.

The youngest ranger of the group
rolls out of the tent first.

After lying sleepless for too long,
watching early sunlight seep through the seams around the tent;
everything is new and exciting on the trail.

The other two exchange amused smiles
as she stirs the fire,
brews the tea,
fusses over supplies
(her own and all the shared goods),
and helps dismantle the tent,
bouncing from task to task like a chatter.

(And just as noisy.)

They all help milk the snowies,
and groom them.

They strike out much later
than the youngest ranger would have liked,

and move at the ponderous pace of the big beasts they ride.

Though it seems slow,

and they stop.

a lot.

by evening they have traveled the long length of the valley.

The sun is still high when they look back from the foothills,
their campsite from the morning a tiny spot
that the youngest ranger wouldn't know to recognize,
if she hadn't been watching it shrink behind them.

The sun is just caressing the line of the mountains
when they strike a new camp,
though the sky will remain bright
long after it has hidden behind the peaks.

The youngest ranger helps to guy out the tent,
and make the fire,
and hobble the snow-unicorns.
She rolls out the sleeping furs,
gathers up wood,
inspects saddle straps,
and is triumphant in finding a bird's nest with eggs to share.

The snowies are milked again,
and groomed.

They sit around the fire.
Tell tales, and drum a little.

Even the youngest ranger is yawning,

her stomach full of milk and
her head full of stories.

Perhaps tomorrow,
the sun won't wake her,

quite as early.

Copyright Ellen Million 2012

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