Hiking Path

Published in The Portland Upside
April 2010

by Julianna Waters

I took you with me in my pocket,
folded but not crumpled,
to see the canyon and the mule deer,
to hear the Imnaha River
sing to rock, grass and limb:
rush, rush, don’t hurry
rush, rush, don’t hurry.

I worked my way up a crumbling path.
The sun, barely awake,
had not yet poured it’s warm glaze
down the canyon wall.
Even with you in my pocket,
I was afraid of falling.
When I reached the top
I felt winded and hot,
but proud.
You said nothing,
but, as I sat down to take in the view,
I could feel you there,
paper thin and folded against my hip.

After a bit, I stood up, turned and faced the wild rose forest.
Teasing out the paths that centuries of cattle had
beaten into the sod with their heft,
I joined one that headed toward a verdant saddle,
hoping for water.

The sun rose higher and
warmed the breeze, but not much.
When I looked down at my boots,
hoof prints mingled in the hard dirt:
cow, deer, and elk,
and I thought to myself,
“how lucky are we?
me with my eyes and bones here in this land,
you in my pocket,
on this cloud free day,
with summer just around the bend.”