Leave No Trace – Ken Gierke

Landscape with boat – Ilya Repin

There is a bottom to this valley,
even for a river as small as this.
Bluffs on either side, but never together,
so that fertile land lies to one side or another.
The ages have swept through here,
worn rock and soil, rested for a while
in those fields before moving on.

I pause within narrow confines,
of little matter to all that has passed,
yet aware of the present before me.
Fully in shade, my kayak tucked beneath
a rock overhang, I gaze into sunlight
as I watch the aerial dance of swallows,
a frenzied motion of order.

Overhead, I hear a rustle within
nests tucked into pockets in the rock.
A swallow appears, inspects my presence,
then flies out to join the feeding dance.
Turtles sun on a log and I hear
the scree of a hawk, followed by
the call of a blue jay, as if in answer.

I brush my fingers along that stone ceiling,
feel as if an integral part of this scene,
if only for a moment, then paddle
into the sunlight, leaving no trace other than
my wake and the splash of startled turtles,
knowing the marks we leave on this world
far outweigh any I’ve just witnessed.


About the Poet

Ken Gierke has been featured at Vita Brevis Press, Amethyst Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and Silver Birch Press. His poetry has been published in three anthologies from Vita Brevis Press, The Moons of Autumn from Word Weaving, and in easing the edges: a collection of everyday miracles, edited by D Ellis Phelps. His poetry blog: https://rivrvlogr.com/

For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.

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