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She is used to being Author's Notes
the youngest ranger on the trail.
Used to asking the questions,
deferring to the others,
and learning little lessons,
like where to site the latrine,
or how to find the best places to set snares,
and when to give a snow-unicorn its head,
and when to whistle it down.
Always letting the others choose
when and where and what,
because she's the youngest,
and knows the least.
Then suddenly, she's not.
And she's explaining to the next young ranger
where to look for bird eggs,
and how to guy the tent on rocky scrabble,
pointing out the fields that make the best grazing,
and a trick for packing gear.
He's coming to her with his questions,
and she's telling him what to do when they strike camp,
without stopping to wonder herself.
The oldest ranger smiles at her,
when she confesses how odd it feels,
and unexpectedly right.
No one stays youngest forever, he laughs.
Though once you are the oldest,
you are until you die.
Once I had written 'First Day on the Trail' and 'A Wild Wind,' it felt like there needed to be a third poem in the series - to sort of wrap things up and echo the symmetry within the poems themselves. Who is (was) the youngest ranger? I'm not sure!