Along the Desert View Trail on Mount San Jacinto

Palm Springs, California

Maybe it was the wind at 8500 feet

or my sneakers navigating slushy snow

or the cloudless sun that kept the chill at bay.

 

Maybe it was the Western gray –

the wildest squirrel to cross our paths –

on her midden trail. Or spalls of rock

 

spilling down mountainsides. Or hikers

dropping packs to share their lives.

Maybe it was nothing more than my mind

 

insisting that close-ups concentrate,

panoramas amaze. No matter why,

persistent words echoed every turn:

 

Stop to notice and you’re saved.

A shooting star in seven syllables,

an epigram designed to stall my pace.

 

Of course attention must be paid –

for astonishment and memories

and photographs bound for my next book –

 

and I’m adept at paying on the spot.

It’s the second thought that stumped.

I didn’t know I needed to be saved.

 

From what – or for? I ask the melting path.

The dinge of earth with all its reckless noise?

The awe-filled grace of clarity? Vistas missed?

 

Maybe answers hide in crevices

where lizards sleep or in nests built high

above a bobcat’s reach. I’ll turn those words

 

slowly in my hand, then bounce them

off the canyon’s walls. Some sense may echo

back before they dismay again.

 

Previously published in Carolyn Martin, Thin Places (CA: Kelsay Books, 2017).

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has published poems in more than 125 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. She is currently the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. Find out more at www.carolynmartinpoet.com.