Winter Day on the Queets


This is a sketch of a day spent on the Queets River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. It was a day of catching and releasing wild steelhead and sea run bull trout. Everything was cold and still here, and at the end of the road, it seemed as though I was the only one around. This is a place a long way from anywhere, but somehow in the midst of the soul of something bigger than me. Ironically, the day seemed to be almost a mix of unplaced anxiety over this sudden solitude and awestruck fascination with a place I have wanted to visit for so long. Here I found that the thin line between unplaced fear and ecstatic exuberence runs through the trees, along the river and up the hill.


In the trees, there is no luxury of imagining summer,

As I follow a thin faint line, draped over stick and stone.

Tracing a path of hope across these shadowy woods,

I now know each breath, short and seen,

Each thought, passing and glancing,

While nighttime fidgets and snarls wherever I lean.


When the way out is momentarily forgotten,

Where the single frail thread is hidden under moss and bough,

A chill courses through my spine, rippling across my brow.


Along the river, to my utter surprise,

Wrapped in high haze were grand winter skies!

Cast in a muted sun, hung low over high tree

This theater of emptiness sees night briefly flee.


Now, surely, a desperate reprieve from winter’s meddles,

To wash away that shuddering thought:

That out here, daylight is a cruel trick,

Luring me into its seasonal plot!


Oh, forget the water sounds,

Wind through trees, silent soaring birds.

Forget these tones of wild place!

For they were swallowed, broadside and whole

By a darkness lingering at every space.



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