Year’s End

Year’s End, Sweet Creek

Go up the Sweet Creek Trail on a winter
afternoon. Soon the canyon closes in,
and the trail becomes a catwalk bolted
to the cliff.  
Hanging over the rail,
you can lose yourself in the white roar of falling water–
throwing everything but your body into the rush and run of the river,
turn until dizzy as a twig in a green punch bowl.
Shafts of sunlight get spattered
out by the rain.

Put your pack down.

Your soul pulls toward the water.

Perhaps the dipper birds have hidden it under
the white wing of the stream that veils their home.
You climb higher, watching steelhead leap the falls–
you see them once and will forever search
that particular cascade, forever longing to be like them
diving deep into the green plunge pools.
The year ends on so many sad stories
and yet lost between the canyon walls,
purified by the sound of many waters,
suddenly you understand how it is that

anything could happen to you.

–with inspiration from William Stafford’s poem,
“How to Regain Your Soul” from
The Darkness Around Us Is Deep collection.