and, the sign says, science

On a long morning walk, the only signs
I’ve read are sounds of woodpeckers drumming
beyond the line of sight beyond the range of light.

Now I stop on a shore where some private
function in public space has made crossing
rapids more treacherous than usual

necessary and wonder if the stream
of speeding cars will stop because a sign
tells me to walk now. On the other shore,

I pass three people whose conversation
moves slowly the other way and hear one
say civil disobedience and Thoreau.

And another says he’s the one who wrote
Walden isn’t he? At the next crossing,
the signal is flashing caution both ways.

Two women in uniform with their backs
to me wave traffic through. I mind the gaps
and cross when one lasts long enough to pass.

Thoreau would not have thought the walk long.
I wonder if the three making small talk
the other way made their way to John Brown

before they stopped on the steps for a snapshot
under Mickey Mouse ears at a shrine
to industry (and, the sign swears, science).