Skip to content


We are walking in the mild midwinter
Snow and thin ice, up Coldwater Creek,
Its many tributaries, their steep ravines
Tracing the blue and brown lines that wind
Dizzily over the unfolded whiteness of our new
Map like staves for the crazy earth song we’ve been
Sight-reading with our feet; we are singing the impossible
Pitch of these slopes and cliffs, losing our place
In a landscape that lives to improvise, and the map
Helps, but nothing written is in stone,
And it’s always a revelation, stopping to
Compare what’s on paper with being there.

Because I did not for a moment doubt in childhood
The story of this rising, shall I, now
I am wiser? The world still has no
Boundary. The lines still shiver and wave;
The impossible takes place; people are kind.
And these woods are still as real and magic
As when I first chased and followed any path
That found me, and just as fearful, and brown death
Still haunts the green, discoloring all
In brilliant falls ground to sodden mulch,
From which, in deepest regions of the wood
The bright stem still rises, witnessed by
Those few who run like children home to tell us.

I’ll say this: whom she supposed to be
The gardener sings and dances the contour lines
That are his body; this body that is broken
By time and season and violence too deep
For us to wonder at the source, broken
Into beauty that lures our present rambling
And leads us to the edge of this escarpment,
Where the waters fall, where all our many streams
Cascade and plunge, in curtain and ribbon, over
terrace and washboard

________________(our terms for the living text:
earth’s open veins)
_____________and where we meet the old girl
who has run and sung and danced these trails
since the day she first saw
the massive rock dislodged
from the cliff face
_____________of any reasonable expectation,
and all these years removed from childhood
we leap aboard, to feel if it shifts
and test the edge, trusting and not trusting,
not willing and willing
________________the rock to roll on.

Image depends on its subscribers and supporters. Join the conversation and make a contribution today.

+ Click here to make a donation.

+ Click here to subscribe to Image.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

If you like Image, you’ll love ImageUpdate.

Subscribe to our free newsletter here: