They had hiked so long they knew not whether
to take off their boots to save their blisters
or keep them on to save their soles.
Joking of such things had hit a peak three ridges back,
luscious silences ensued.
The colors of forest, boulder field, flower, and sky
imperceptibly grew more rich and lucid,
until a depth of light never before seen emanated from all objects
within their gaze, whether shadowed or blazing in sunlight,
yet not psychedelic, no movie effects, nothing surreal—
only the realer reality of the simply seen
by the open eyes of a healthy body,
a body fully oxygenated, fully circulating, its center of gravity slung low and strong
and moving steadily forward.
The three hikers stopped to tend their feet streamside,
splashing, wetting, wringing,
hanging clean socks to dry from the backs of their packs.
They drank water from plastic bottles while longing
for the days of open mouths in streams, imagined pouring all the dead water out
and returning it to the living, imagined a life without fear or will.
The ambition of their 40-pound packs, now strewn on the streambank,
seemed suddenly absurd, made them want to get naked,
what the hell, a giddy gratitude began to glimmer up their throats
at the silliness of the ambition that had brought them to this place
and beyond the pain and beyond the tiredness,
beyond the talking and virtually every desire but the desire to trek the full distance
(and even that they had taken turns talking each other back into),
and that gratitude made it safer to undress than to do anything else,
the only sensible thing to do, to bring them
fully here at rest, beside the path,
muscles cooling and toes happily spread and skin wrapped in the silk of water.
By dusk they found themselves fully alive:
surrendered, unremembering, readying for slumber
in skins as fresh as a pool beside a sweat lodge,
with hearts relentlessly beating,
the way water flows under the apparent stillness of the pool,
destination as yet unknown.
© Karina Lutz, first paper, electronic rights to Green Living Journal