Backtracking

Ice Age Trail: Pike Lake Segment

The yellow blaze forks.

I don’t understand the choice.

This is a non-loop trail.

The ribbon of black and green

garter snake shares the sunshine

with me as I consult the map.

It is and it isn’t a loop trail —

it can be if you want.

I choose the tower view of wind

sculpted lake in gray-green marble,

splashes of vermilion on green

like the first raindrops of fall.

I follow a path I walked in spring

when I was filled with anger, fighting

against a world that no longer made sense,

struggling to problem solve the impossible,

seeking action to hide grief.

The trees here wear yellow sashes —

warning, the hillside is eroding, leaf

rot oozes from earth’s torn flesh.

I feel it here, the shredded black edges

of grief, waiting for me like an old pack

left unshouldered until I regained

my strength to pick it back up.

I put it on like a shadow

heavy as a black hole, it pulls

warm wet streaks down my face.

I turn back on my tracks and climb

the tower a second time because I can.

I am alone and there is no one

to complain about the extra steps.

The clouds thicken and the wind grows

cooler. The weather is changing.


Katrina Serwe

Katrina Serwe, BS, MS, PhD…it took her three degrees to figure out she’s really a poet. Now she’s on Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail writing poems and sharing hiking haiku on Instagram. Her poems have been published in Bramble, Moss Piglet, The Little Book Project, Muse 5, and the Solitary Plover

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