Thin Places

Pat Phillips West
Sometimes travel takes us to "thin places" - a mountain, a bookstore, a forest, a shrine – 
where the sublime bends low.
  ~  Eric Weiner

I make my way down Red Fish Canyon,
shins protesting the sharp dissent.
At the bottom, the lake laps 
at the lowest branches
of the cottonwood trees.
Mid-March the smell of mud 
and last fall’s leaves fill the air.
Dark-bottomed clouds sit right on the treetops.
I take a long pull from my blue
water bottle.  Your image sways 
between wisps of vapor dancing
across the lake.  A hot, steel blade 
of excitement slides down my spine.
You wear that green and white plaid
Pendleton jacket.  I catch a whiff
of campfire smoke and whiskey.
Hemingway’s whiskey you’d always say
although I can’t remember why.
After we’d set up camp, you’d sip 
a Seven and Seven, raise your glass, 
toast Muddy Waters as the rhythm rolled 
from a mix tape of sweet soul, 
dirty blues.  You’d lean back 
in your chair by the fire, sigh, 
This place just puts me whole.    

Pat Phillips West lives in Portland, OR. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

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