Bell’s Gap

hinterland
a road sign made
by beetles

the descent beckons
following the stream
following the trail

Feeling wonderfully foolish this afternoon—just elated for no good reason—strolling down the Allegheny Front on an old rail bed, now turned into a trail for hunters and the occasional ambitious runner or hiker, this far above the official rail-trail at the base of the mountain.

old locust tree
creaking
as I walk past

meltwater…
a small rock
makes its move

name carved
in the bed
of a Devonian sea

even
after death
hugging the cliff

Thoughts on long walks become woven into the landscape. You pick up a thread right where you’d dropped it. Here’s where I thought about ravens. Here’s where I thought about Ukraine.

the price
of this luxury
old bear shit

stumps
from a bygone age
stone in my shoe

water from the rock
please God don’t let it
be AMD

When you get back deep enough into the Front, there’s one stretch of trail where hemlocks still grow thickly and you can’t hear the distant traffic over the hush of the stream and the wind.

silence echoing
between the hills
Bell’s Gap

Do I sometimes mutter to myself? It’s hard to deny the evidence of that when it’s this quiet. “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well” is a straight-up charm, albeit attributed to a Christian mystic. I like saying it. It makes me calm. It makes me feel connected to an ancient lineage of weirdo loners writing in English.

lost scroll
of paper birch
the sun’s handwriting

as if
I were accompanied
only by trees

reaching the lake
the tiredness
in my legs

private drive
a strong smell
of skunk

A runner passes me with his head down, seemingly communing with his breath. His bright orange jacket takes a long time to disappear around the bend. Picture the tail lights on a slow caboose.

open water
the humming
treatment plant

hour of the dog walker
red-winged
blackbirds


“The descent beckons” is an allusion to a passage in William Carlos Williams’ book-length poem Paterson.

AMD = acid mine drainage. (There’s an AMD remediation site at the top of the mountain.)

I’ve been wanting to blog longer haibun+photo posts for some time here. Yesterday, operating on a full night’s sleep for once, I managed to write this whole series on my phone, in between snapping photos and of course walking. I made a few changes to the text this morning, but most of my editing efforts were devoted to photo processing.

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