Along the Desert View Trail on Mount San Jacinto
Palm Springs, California

Maybe it was the wind at 8500 feet
or my sneakers navigating slushy snow
or the cloudless sun that kept the chill at bay.

Maybe it was the Western gray –
the wildest squirrel to cross our paths –
on her midden trail. Or spalls of rock

spilling down mountainsides. Or hikers
dropping packs to share their lives.
Maybe it was nothing more than my mind
insisting that close-ups concentrate,
panoramas amaze. No matter why,
persistent words echoed every turn:

Stop to notice and you’re saved.
A shooting star in seven syllables,
an epigram designed to stall my pace.

Of course attention must be paid –
for astonishment and memories
and photographs bound for my next book –

and I’m adept at paying on the spot.
It’s the second thought that stumped.
I didn’t know I needed to be saved.

From what – or for? I ask the melting path.
The dinge of earth with all its reckless noise?
The awe-filled grace of clarity? Vistas missed?

Maybe answers hide in crevices
where lizards sleep or in nests built high
above a bobcat’s reach. I’ll turn those words

slowly in my hand, then bounce them
off the canyon’s walls. Some sense may echo
back before they dismay again.


This poem also appears in Thin Places, a collection of poems by Carolyn Martin.


About the Poet:  From Assistant Professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK, and her third poetry collection, Thin Places, was released by Kelsay Books in 2017. Since the only poem she wrote in high school was red-penciled “extremely maudlin,” Carolyn is still amazed she has continued to write.


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