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Life Arts    H4'ed 11/27/22

Hiking in the Delaware Water Gap

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My son and I walked up out of the Gap
Leaving the Delaware far below.

The trail is gradual but relentless as a ramp
All the way to the top of the ridge

With only one switchback
Where a brook cascades down.

If you ascend as the sun sinks
If you are in a place where others are hiking

You will pass people who are coming down
And the there is an etiquette for when

People pass each other on a trail,
But I'll be damned if I know what it is.


This poem is written unabashedly from a 72-year-old perspective. But I wonder if the reader picks up on that. The brook at the switchback that "cascades down" captures the joy of descending. Sometimes old age feels like a relentless climb to me. The sun is sinking while the poet is ascending, so he is ascending against the relentless passage of cosmic time, as well as against gravity and against the descent of other hikers who seem to be more in sync with it just being another day. The poet's quandary around trail etiquette reveals how separate he feels from these descending hikers. Perhaps he feels as if it is his place to step aside or to step off the trail to let others (presumably younger hikers) pass. What's between the lines is his attitude that people should make allowances for his age, maybe stepping aside for him, but the poem ends with his surrendering to his grumpiness. He is not a happy camper, but at least he is still able to surmount the ridge with his son and eke a little dry humor out of his situation.

(Article changed on Nov 27, 2022 at 4:53 PM EST)

(Article changed on Nov 28, 2022 at 6:56 PM EST)

(Article changed on Nov 28, 2022 at 7:26 PM EST)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of five nonfiction books, three collections of poetry, "Children to the Mountain", "The Last recurrent Dream" (Two Plum Press), "Conversations with Poetry (coauthored with Tom Cowan), and (more...)

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