A Walk


Sunday the only day we don't work:
Mules farting around the meadow,
                                          Murphy fishing,
The tent flaps in the warm
Early sun: I've eaten breakfast and I'll
                                          take a walk
To Benson Lake. Packed a lunch,
Goodbye. Hopping on creekbed boulders
Up the rock throat three miles
                                          Piute Creek–
In steep gorge glacier-slick rattlesnake country
Jump, land by a pool, trout skitter,
The clear sky. Deer tracks.
Bad place by a falls, boulders big as houses,
Lunch tied to belt,
I stemmed up a crack and almost fell
But rolled out safe on a ledge
                                          and ambled on.
Quail chicks freeze underfoot, color of stone
They run cheep! away, hen quail fussing.
Craggy west end of Benson Lake–after edging
Past dark creek pools on a long white slope–
Lookt down in the ice-black lake
                                          lined with cliff
From far above: deep shimmering trout.
A lone duck in a gunsight pass
                                          steep side hill
Through slide-aspen and talus, to the east end,
Down to grass, wading a wide smooth stream
Into camp. At last.
                        By the rusty three-year-
Ago left-behind cookstove
Of the old trail crew,
Stoppt and swam and ate my lunch.


Gary Snyder, No Nature: New and Selected Poems, Pantheon Books, 1992.