What if I told you
you had to touch it
to make it real?
Trace a finger across
or lower a bare foot into an eddy
nudging a leaf with your toe.
If I told you it was there
could you believe me?
Have you ever felt a cool bed of polished granite?
Can you know what you’ve missed?
I don’t believe myself sometimes,
second-guessing hazy memories
of alpenglow in the peaks
and sheet after sheet of waves
whipped by gusts across a lake.
Compelled to return, time and time again
to inspect the flow of creeks
and the decay of boulders
-to confirm that it is all as I have left it
that it is all still real.
When recalling the cold indifference
of midnight air
stinging the lungs
-I can see it, feel it so clearly in my mind
and yet I’m shocked upon return.
Recollection is untrustworthy.
I have come to trust rain,
the loneliness of stars.
Abandon the idolatry of memory.
Press your feet into the soil and trust their weight.
Trust the mule deer
slowly edging a hillside
-stopping, nostrils flared and ears erect
winding me, locking eyes
a nonhuman witness confirming the present:
I have arrived.
(Images and prose from a 4 night/5 day solo hike in the Upper Kern Basin just before the summer fires of 2020).