Thursday, October 29, 2009

how to describe

I've been trying to write an essay about some experiences I've had biking the Lost Lake Trail, particularly the first and most recent times I rode it. It's been tough putting in the details of the story and I'm not quite sure why, but sometimes when I shift into the essay form my writing can get stiff and too factual, less descriptive and visceral. Then on Wednesday, as the concrete workers in the garage below me scraped and dragged their floats and trowels against the drying concrete I remembered a few moments along the trail.

 looking back at Lost Lake and smoke from forest fires

How can I describe
emerging from a sweaty climb
where I've pedaled my bicycle
so slowly on the needle-covered trail
that I am no longer outrunning the mosquitoes
and biting flies
that I thought were done tormenting us
for the season,
emerging through a break in the trees
to a cut bank
where the trail curves around a knoll
to feel the breeze that has traveled from the ocean
into the gulf and up the bay, over a mountain pass
until it washes over me and dries my sweat?

And how can I describe
the moment I witness
the trail winding and dipping before me,
disappearing over a hillock
only to emerge beyond a tarn
as it draws a line along
and over and between
the contours of the high pass?

And how can I describe to you
the relief of removing my
salt-stained jersey,
shorts, bra and socks
before stepping precariously
over rocks unexpectedly smooth
or sharp
to ease myself gently
into one of those tarns
perfectly warmed by the long summer days' sun,
one inch at a time,
water over ankles, calves, knees, thighs,
until plunging under?

Then to surface,
feel the breeze raise bumps across
my skin before I sink,
water washing over my shoulders
water surrounding me,
as I tilt back my head
into the cooling, still water
clear water left over from winter's snow
spring melt
mixed with sweet rainwater?

How can I describe this to you?


Alaska's Dirt said...

a nice poem Rose......

KB said...

You described it beautifully! I know those feelings so your poem struck a chord with me.

corinne said...

i think you described it ... thanks.

van said...

What a beautiful poem :)You have got nice areas for riding, Alaska, mhmmmm :)

Greatings from polish biker ! :)

bikegirl said...

thanks everyone for your kind words. It reminds me to keep writing and to allow my words to flow in whatever form they decide to take.

Paul Kramer said...

I enjoyed this poem very much and would like to share it with my readers. Could I have permission to reprint it in the August Riders' Collective magazine (
You can reach me at
I would appreciate it very much.
Thank you.