“After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Nature inspires art. Writers and poets have written about the wonders of creation for centuries–snowcapped mountain peaks, mystical deserts, fiery canyons, mighty oceans, cascading waterfalls. William Wordsworth drew heavily on his treks through the countryside for his autobiographical The Prelude and the introduction to The Recluse, works which reveal his views on philosophy, nature, poetics and the human condition.
Pen and notepad are as integral a part of my hiking gear as a pocket rocket and water bottle. At the end of a typical day on the trail I lay in my sleeping bag and jot down my observations, as well as my reactions to what I’d experienced. When I wake fresh in the morning, again I reach for the quill. Then there are times on the trail I come to a stunning overlook or I’ll see a monarch butterfly and I’m scribbling again. When I return home I have this treasure trove of narrative and verse.
I just got around to viewing my photos and notes from a hike on the Appalachian Trail a few weeks ago. The thing that immediately grabbed me was an overlook at the Delaware Water Gap, and then the trek down the ridge into Wind Gap, PA came to mind, and the exhausting climb back up the other side. From those images I crafted what some poets refer to as an upside down poem–sixteen lines; eight lines into the poem, and then eight lines back out.
Below the collage of photos from the hike is my poem Wind Gap.
Midway down the rock-strewn ridge into Wind Gap
the trail narrows to stone scattered on trampled dirt
thin trees extend a helping hand.
Somewhere below the sea of flora thrashing
steel-belted rubber overcomes warbler chirping
the green canopy opens to asphalt
eighteen-wheelers scream by, I stand in the gap watching
another ridge rise into the sky on the other side.
I scramble to the other side where a ridge rises into the sky
away from eighteen-wheelers screaming by
the green canopy closes to asphalt
chirping warbler drowns out steel-belted rubber
thrashing below a floral sea.
Thin trees extend a helping hand
on the narrowing trail stone scattered on trampled dirt
midway up the rock-strewn ridge from Wind Gap.