Hoo Doos Trail

My mind hiccupping back
to that sweet May smell
of high snowpack melting,
tickling down river beds – glacial shock
to the underbelly of sun-stunned rock –
I keep thinking didn’t it smell like rain
to a thirsty traveler, but as usual

there comes the question of honesty. Really
I couldn’t have been thinking of travelers,
thirsty or otherwise, for wasn’t I lost
in pastoral exultation, the trail
satisfyingly mulchy and under my feet
prairie crocus sproutlings, stalks furred and juicy,
purple buds gearing up for the moment
they’d blow themselves open?
O! to be thus unabashed,
ecclesiastic, but
to admit what was really on my mind:

Rhonda and her red-gorgeous hair
dropping a tick, neat-as-you-please
on her breakfast plate, its arachnoid freeze
as Rhonda herself shrieked a jig around the stunned dining hall –
something about shaving herself bald –
In short, the mercurial nature of the pastoral
when there are creatures to scuttle up the pant leg,
root in our hairy places,
burrow in.

Now, two years later, I would stand on my head
and drink fifty glasses of water to stop spluttering my way
to this trailhead, the strange beginning of
fever and joint aches, the nervous dislocasia
of having lost here some essential thing.
Of recognizing that holiness has its caveats,
the stupidity of self
and of humanity being among them. Which is more ridiculous:
the men on the golf course across the river emerging from their carts
to brandish their clubs at a grizzly mama and her cubs
or the quick-dry clad, sun-proofed poet standing safe on the far shore,
and with dewy-eyes, watching?
What would I do if mama swam the river –
elocute with affecting verbal line breaks
that I, a concerned and caring steward of the earth,
understood the challenges and perils of her shrinking habitat,
and therefore should not be eaten?

Mama bear, you can
pry off its legs, cut it in half,
flail its carapace with a hammer,
but a tick in danger will blindly tunnel deeper.

~ Brenda Leifso

Brenda Leifso’s first book of poetry, Daughters of Men, is forthcoming from Brick Books in April, 2008.

One Response to “Hoo Doos Trail”

  1. Bravo. Nice imagery wrapped up in a commentary.

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