This is the falling down chute off the plane of birches,
carpet of lichens on the border trail of north.
This is where we go at the end of summer to balance
office lives with taconite-colored water, with the iffy
horizon of a lake cradled by buttery basalt,
by the Animikie, the fire-born bosom of the big Her.
We are sliding into happiness on Graywacke talus,
Earth’s cells shed daily, bits of rove rock underfoot.
This is Grand Portage or Tetagouche, shady state
park trails with the occasional hand rail, bald eagle,
spongy futon of ferns. This is a slipandfall retreat
from the city, from the scree of talking points
and inboxes. Here we slip into Thomsonite and silver.
Fall back into bear-scatted pine needles. Imagine
running under a wolf moon, downhill but sure-footed,
unlikely to collide with moose or bill collector. Going
down the glacial ridges, past the wild sarsaparilla, the
fear of strangers, white cedar, cocktail party gaffes,
bunchberry and biopsies. This is downhill hiking on
soles that grip the good, let us roll over the terrain
of minutia, the till of too much, just too riverine much –
until we reach solid ground. That flat place, wolfandbearless
walking place, where afternoon sun quakes through aspen.
Deborah Fries is the author of two books of poetry – Various Modes of Departure and The Bright Field of Everything. She is an editorial board member and columnist for Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments and a contributor to Making Sense of Alzheimer’s, developing web content for the Penn Neurodegenerative Disease Ethics and Policy Program. Fries, who lived in Milwaukee for two decades, now lives in Philadelphia.