Example and Admonition

My father’s admonition: when given
a choice, choose the path that
leads uphill, always,

so up we went, but all led down soon after:
our destination Deep Creek, where water had gathered
by taking every downhill opportunity.

We thought of that when the higher path turned down,
but no one mentioned it then, nor ever, in fact, til now.
Two lessons: and though sometimes I feel clever,

and have read the Chou I book all about that water,
I’ve not forsaken either one. If there be something in a man
that flows uphill, he has to go with it

whatever sweat or humiliation may attend his going.
Done patiently, this is called "matching heaven with heaven."
Otherwise, just strife.

Permission from Handsel Books (an imprint of Other Press LLC) to reprint "Example and Admonition" from A Word Like Fire: Selected Poems Copyright © 2005 Patricia Barnes is gratefully acknowledged.