Trail Magic

They say that salt water is a great purifier
So I will run to the sea
Turn my bones to salt in the river of my steps
Ask to return to something bigger than I am.
Let me arrive undone from pretences,
Shedding my layers of regret, of doubt;
Let me arrive naked as will and saltwater skin
Because what is prayer, really,
If not stripping down what is pretty
To show what is real, honest as bone
And I never knew before that there was such grace
In emptying like this
In hollowing out like this
Becoming paper lantern like this –
Let me burn like the wick of me is sage brush
And will never run out
Let me burn so bright that my demons
Turn shadow puppet
On the outside of my skin
Let the smoke speak the things
I was never brave enough to say out loud
But here, let me find that there is nothing
Salt water cannot cure,
Stamped out plain on the earth;
Preserving for future but drawing the poison out
Like this;
Here, let me find answers to the questions
I could only ask in salt
Let the ocean show me another word for mercy
Let me find a forgiveness that tastes
Like sage and saltwater and ash,
But here, now, before the endless sea,
I am a burning river
And the waves are leading me home.

 

 

***

 

 

The beginnings of this poem had been circling in my mind from the very beginning of my journey along the coast path from Poole.

Something about coming to the sea in the hopes of drawing the poison out of my past. About coming home, and not at the same time. About emptying myself to the trail as a kind of offering up.

It finally came together at the top of the Great Hangman near Ilfracombe, where the thick fog and cloud allowed me to finally find the words I had been reaching for over the miles.

 

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