He smelled of cheap cigarettes and stale coffee, like the back of some old “last gas here” station, where the only business is young lost couples, coyotes, and tumbleweeds.

His face and hands were of chiseled stone, wind-worn and hardened as the mountains he was surrounded by, like he was born from them, to go out to the world of man and exist where they could not. Lines traced his face, although none of them from laughter, at least not recently. On his right pinky was a ring of turquoise and silver, standing out against his weathered hands like some rare gem peeking out from hewn rock.

His shoulders rolled forward, as some invisible weight held them down in an uncomfortable way, pushing his back to his toes.

His hair, although full, was wispy, and hung just over his eyes, like he had decided to rebel against the men around him a few years after they already had done the same. Gray and white it was, like fresh and dirty snow on the lee side of a hill cut into the earth on some back-woods road. His beard was icicles and frost of a mountain spring that has frozen over for the winter, cutting itself off of its life.

His eyes, though, above everything else, held a youthful nervousness, some secret barred behind their shock blue intensity. The secret of the earth, perhaps, and her thoughts on the small things gliding over her surface. Perhaps the knowledge of the voice of the wind, and what it whispers to us in hushed meadows in forgotten places. Perhaps some thing that cannot be placed into words that any human or beast could ever hope to understand; the low rumble of mountains growing from their roots, speaking in sentences that take eons to utter.

Of these things I cannot know for certain.

But what I can say is that this man Knows. And I can only hope to reach that someday.

©J.Kyle Linklater, 2017