The Girl Who Goes Alone

I recently discovered this incredible poem from Elizabeth Austen, read by her at Hedgebrook Rises! in 2013. The poem was published as part of her collection EVERY DRESS A DECISION (Blue Begonia Press, 2011). Elizabeth Austen is the Washington State Poet Laureate, 2014-2016.

I dedicate this to the Mighty Hiker Women of the world, especially those who are unsure, and perhaps fearful, but who feel the inexorable pull of the wild places.

Of a Certain Age

I celebrated my 51st birthday on the trail this year. What a tremendous gift, to be in the mountains, surrounded by God’s creation, and sharing it with like-minded people.

Some of my favorite people to meet were those of a certain age. I got to know many people over fifty…some were closer to 80, and doing long distance hikes. They weren’t the fastest on the trail (remember Hike Your Own Hike?), but that wasn’t important. The trail belongs to them, just like me, just like those fresh out of school.

So in celebration of the vintage hikers on the trail, I’m sharing an incredible poem from Nanao Sakaki.  Hat tip to Sage Clegg for the reference (She’s a Triple Crowner and outdoor educator, at http://www.sageclegg.com …don’t miss her website).

Break the Mirror

In the morning
After taking cold shower
—what a mistake—
I look at the mirror.

There, a funny guy,
Grey hair, white beard, wrinkled skin,
—what a pity—
Poor, dirty, old man,
He is not me, absolutely not.

Land and life
Fishing in the ocean
Sleeping in the desert with stars
Building a shelter in the mountains
Farming the ancient way
Singing with coyotes
Singing against nuclear war–
I’ll never be tired of life.
Now I’m seventeen years old,
Very charming young man.

I sit quietly in lotus position,
Meditating, meditating for nothing.
Suddenly a voice comes to me:
“To stay young,
To save the world,
Break the mirror.”