Hiking and stuff. I do it a lot. A lot a lot. Oddly enough I have never written anything about it. I mean nothing! I think I must get it all out while I hike or climb or mountaineer.
I think though it’s because activities in nature are never about the activity, rather the nature of the activity. Hiking is walking with people and talking. Backpacking is that plus eating and sleeping in close (often way to close) proximity with each other. Throw in that whole other element about having to go to the bathroom in some exposed place when at any moment some fox could peep in on you while you are doing your thing, or worse, one of your friends decides to throw pine cones at you while you are most vulnerable or locked into your clean cycle.
The nature of the wilderness for man is the opposite of nature’s nature. The wild seems very indifferent and uncaring to its inhabitants. It is not so with us. We get placed in some garden and the guy with the final say decides man needs another…otherwise this wild indifference is going to kill him. The nature of man in nature is community.
I don’t know why I don’t write about this stuff more. It has changed my life.
I have one more theory that is common to most writers who never become writers. Community rocks. Who has time to write when you are having an all out blast?
Not this guy.
Enjoy the poem.
It’s never just a backpacking trip when you carry so much on your shoulders.
It had been a slog
Lugging our mud up the mountainside.
Overheated, dehydrated, chilled
Half to death; so cold
We wore kinetic crowns
Of panting steam around our heads.
Evening settled in; and we too
On the earth we called our beds,
Shawled like necks in sleeping bags
Spread out around a campsite,
Adorned the night with lanterns,
Pillows and packs of cards.
We are home
Beneath an otherworld of stars.
We twiddled acorns like uncomfortable rosaries
Before casting them into the flames
Of our marshmallow fire.
The guys sling rocks at me
While I won’t shut up about a girl
Her smile and laugh, braided curl.
That’s typical, they said.
Then someone said dad
And cancer, and then
No one said anything.
Then someone said he was sorry
And someone else did too.
Then everyone said nothing,
bent back and leered
Up at the veil
Of ghost clouds
Swallowing the questioning sky.
And we went on
Peeling the bark off sticks,
Surrendering them to the fire.
Light embers, called up
in a whirlwind on the unburdened air,
Leapt upward, white flecks like snowflakes,
And vanished invisible
Where we all thought somewhere
God was sticking out his big pink tongue
Waiting to receive our prayers.