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26 Days on the Superior Hiking Trail

By Jessica Franken

Thank you trekking poles, molded to my dead father’s hands thank you full-bellied bats thank you rushing river for your amniotic lullaby past the womb of my tent; thank you unnamable green of the sun through aspen leaves thank you forest birds who taught my ancestors music—the etude of the whippoorwill, the white throated sparrow’s perfect fourth and the grouse a drum inside me thank you; thank you toad who refused to be metaphor thank you yowling wolves thank you sunshower that fancy-dressed strawberry leaves in glittering jewels, one bead on each serrated leafpoint; thank you smooth flat worrystones of Lake Superior that rattle-sang at the waves’ tug thank you fuzzy, playful mind uncrutched by Google thank you pine tree’s leg seamed with trillium and stretched like a tall man’s across the path thank you slug, we watched you for an hour and gave you different barks to try oh thank you; thank you ferns with palms up in worship thank you owls caterwauling thank you skin cells falling and replacing as I walked thank you every moss-covered boulder I loved and have forgotten but that dwells forever in my underskin thank you starflowers, bunchberry, columbine, you who lined the whole path like I was Nature’s bride, walking down a four-county aisle so beautiful we both forgot about the altar.

Jessica Franken is an essayist and poet living in Minneapolis who knows a lot about blisters and mosquitoes.

Photo by Jessica Franken.


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