Eric Stein

The Cave

I climbed feet first
into the hole in the ground,
twisted my body like a serpent
around a solid rock wall
then planted my feet on the floor.
I was like a soldier readying himself
for what lay ahead.

The cave was dark and damp.
Steadily I walked forward,
holding my hands in front of me
for protection from the unknown.
Who knew what lay ahead
or even beside or behind me?
I would turn on the flashlight
for guidance
but only for a second.

My arm hit a sharp rock.
I felt a rush of pain,
 as blood started to trickle down
when I walked forward. Then something
 brushed across my hair.
I could feel my heart thump against my chest.
Cold sweat seeped down my brow.
Was it a bat?

Eventually I spotted a beam of light
shine through a crevice.
I climbed upward,
grabbing the cold gray stone,
 before crawling out onto grass.

I stared up at the trees
and felt the cool breeze
drift against my face.
I had been granted a second chance.


Eric Stein is a 2011 graduate from the College of Wooster in Ohio, majoring in psychology with minors in Environmental Studies and English. He has worked as a climate change intern for the National Park Service in Cornish, NH and environmental educator in Northeast Ohio. His favorite pastimes are to run, hike and be present in nature. He enjoys writing nature poetry.