The Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook Trail

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1.
I look up at where I began.
That’s where I’ll be going back to.
A loop.
Always looping.

2.
I pass a pair of naked, baked girls
covered in pastels.
They wonder aloud if they
should go to the colorful car.
I’d liked to have joined them,
these free and easy strangers.

3.
The forest sucks sound
through its silent wooden straw.
It makes the woodpecker
all the more jarring
(at least, I think it’s him),
tapping and rapping above my head.

I search the drooped eucalyptus
for his red crest, his forward-and-back,
but find nothing.
I walk along and away
trusting that he was there,
though I never saw him.

I wish I could settle with you
the way I did that woodpecker:
easily trusted, even when
obstructed from view.
Elusive, higher than my faith,
but felt like a stone in my hand.

4.
The girl with fists so deep
in her utility jacket you’d think
she’d found hope there
rolls her eyes as I round
the corner, typing on my phone.
No no – I’m not like the rest!
I am writing a poem,
a beautiful poem,
can’t you tell? 

5.
As I wind my final way out
of the canyon I pass it,
half-melted into the hill
and fully unimagined:
the colorful car.
It does exist.
I found it.
Alone.

(2019)

Like Honey Bees

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What if I told you
you’d been going about it
all wrong?
Alone, that is.

Would you believe me
if I said that
I’d washed my body
clean of the stick and muck
and this time I was
sure of it?

I will sting you again,
we will sting each other again;
it is what happens
in any unfurling and refolding.

But unlike the yellow jacket,
that repeat offender,
I will not continue to attack.
As slow and sorry as a honey bee,
I will remove my weapon
and be done with it.

I offer this buzzing life
to you in cupped hands.
Will you close your eyes,
put your lips to the sweetness,
and let the hum catch
in your throat
once more?

(2019)

The Jumper

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A suit with little room for much else
Except a pooling of fear
At the throat perhaps,
Where the zipper starts.

I search the lineup for his red and white,
His shape merely a suggestion
From the height he climbs to.
A miniature carrying two chopsticks –
I will never know the true weight of those utensils,
But I have felt the true weight of the jumper.

He appears on the in-run like a blink.
He breathes in long and slow,
The same ice caught in my lungs.
Another batting and he is sliding,
Another and he’s gone.

The next time we meet he is airborne,
A stamp on the sky.
Gravity would tell us he’s floating down
But I don’t trust it – he seems so
Beautifully suspended, an ornament
Hung on some weighty, invisible hook.

But eventually he does touch down:
An easy glide into the landing.
Past the crowds, past me,
Past all possible darkness.

Since then the snows have sloughed off the slopes
And he and I have gone into a different kind of sliding.
On my best days I wish him well,
I loosen my grip,
Something melts.

I miss the jumper,
I think of him every day.
No longer mine,
I charge the sky with his care
And remind myself, ritual-like,
As if carving deep grooves for skis,
That I want to love like he jumps
And to live like he lands.

(2019)