The Aetnaville Limestone Cave
By Don Iannone
For some reason today,
I remembered the old limestone cave
we used to explore,
as growing young boys in Martins Ferry.
The cave, located in Aetnaville,
just south of Martins Ferry,
was very much a hidden mystery,
known only to the true initiates
of the sacred geometry of Eastern Ohio,
or those taking the time to trapse
the area's ancient woodland landscape in detail.
While a long time ago in years,
the Aetnaville cave and our adventures
are never more than a thought away
at given moment.
Give them a thought, and there they are,
and there you are.
Sensing the cave could swallow us up
in any loose-footed moment,
even as boys we took precautions
to ensure we could safely exit
what we had in the first place entered.
Wet and cold,
the cave was not conducive to candles,
or the homemade kerosene torches
we used for light in other caves.
We were entirely dependent upon
our trusty ever-ready battery flashlights
to light our cautious footsteps
into the earth's deep limestone belly.
To ensure we found our way out,
we tied together four balls of sturdy string,
each the length of a football field.
Twelve hundred feet into the earth was deep
for three eleven year-old boys,
who lived about the same distance
from the Elm School,
where they spent days
from early September to early June.
To this day, I vividly recall
the damp sweet smell
of the Aetnaville limestone cave.
And to this day,
I equate the twelve hundred feet
into the foreboding cave,
as roughly the same distance
I must travel inward
to reach the cave of my heart.
Isn't it funny how
all inward journeys feel the same?