Last Hike Before Leaving Montana

Last Hike Before Leaving Montana

By Patricia Traxler

(posted Wednesday, March 4, 1998)

To hear the poet read “Last Hike Before Leaving Montana,” click here.

Send forth Thy light and Thy truth. Late winter,
last hike before leaving Montana, and it’s like
finding a diamond; now I don’t want to go.
I sit in the dirt and put my hands in your tracks.
For the first time in a long time I don’t doubt. Now
I know I always knew you were here. You are
the beginning of disclosure, the long-felt presence

Suddenly incarnate. Behind me my friend warns, If we
see the bear, get into a fetal position. No problem,
I tell her, I’m always in a fetal position–I was born
in a fetal position. Did you know, she says, the body
of a shaved bear looks exactly like a human man?
I skip a stone, feel a sudden bloat of grief, then laugh.
I ask her, Who would shave a bear? We climb

Further up Rattlesnake Creek, watch winter sun glitter
off dark water. No matter how high we go I look higher.
Sometimes absence can prove presence. That’s not exactly
faith, I know. All day, everywhere, I feel you near at hand.
There’s so much to understand, and everything to prove. Up
high the air is thin and hard, roars in the ears like love.