Warrior Rock Light


The river is high for winter, but it’s still the water I know, its muddy banks, dirty shore, lucid waves. Swollen, I can’t follow it to the lighthouse. I cut through brambles, to the trail, stepping on spongy flora forming a false carpet, made of branches, dried leaves, and grasses, hiding the ground, hiding everything.  Curling around fallen trees, the carpet creates deep catacombs. I don’t know why, I’m searching for the dead, that kid that went missing, that woman who hasn’t been heard from in years, bones, fingers, humanity. All colors of the years here have melted into a gray mass. Anyone could be lost here, everyone is, perhaps, lost here, in plain sight. Every now and then I see the ground. I hear the river, its slow pace. 

I know why some jump into the river, inside the hidden current, upstream, from the city

To become lost, to lose themselves, to become gray like old flora, that’s the last place to hide.

There are freshwater clam shells strewn along the river’s shore, eaten by birds. Clams filter everything, then so must the birds. And it’s me, filtering…through the gray. There’s not really a way to get lost here, only a way to become hidden. The river’s been higher, flooded the brambles, the soft carpet and all things that have fallen for countless seasons. I stop my search, though I know someone is lost… somewhere… in here. If only I could lift the carpet, look underneath. Afterwards, I would place it back down, exactly how I found it. The trail is the shortest way, always on solid ground, a few feet higher than the river, a little muddy. 

I reach the lighthouse.

(Image: Mt. St. Helens from the Columbia River)

33 Comments on “Warrior Rock Light

  1. So glad I found your work. This takes me back to you can’t imagine. Lyrical, evocative, superbly written. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know that spot, albeit with lower water. The moss, the branches, the beach, ducks cruising each other, and above all, in just the right spot, St. Helens across the river. Nicely done.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It is a challenge, especially with seniors after spring break… I’m high-energy and genuinely love being with them, though, so that helps. Respect for my profession is much appreciated: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes into play daily working with our youth.


  4. Some of my thoughts about this piece:

    I feel your connection to a familiar nature spot in “it’s still the water I know.”

    I recall other ground focus in previous poems of yours that stick out in my mind. I tend to favor looking up, so this intrigues me. Perhaps you see more below because you’re a runner watching your footing. (I look down to avoid death by fire ants and snakes in the South; I loathe the former and like the latter.)

    My favorite sounding line: “Curling around the fallen trees, the carpet creates deep catacombs.” And the profoundness of that analogy.

    Ah, to be lost and to hide in plain sight…

    I love the imagery of the narrator lifting and replacing the false, physical and the metaphorical carpet. What if we could have a bird’s eye view of all of the lost and hidden visitors of that place and know their stories as well?…

    Love the ending sentence, especially since I saw the lighthouse image on IG. To reach the lighthouse at the end seems like a beginning, doesn’t it?

    What another wonderful piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks my friend. I know the geekiness well. English teacher! Wow. I respect that. It must be a challenge to get kids to read stuff and think about it. I would love to see your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve re-read this several times already, like I usually re-read your poems, for all the wonderful layers of meaning, just to savor it all (and then again to just appreciate the advanced sound techniques). Your dual gifts you share with us inspire me so much artistically. I’m an English teacher and nature photographer on top of my rebirth as a poet, hence my extra geekiness. (An even wordier Part 2 of my comment coming soon, I’m sure…)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Yes, your poem definitely has much meaning for me. We see Helens from the west here. (At the time of the eruption we lived in the Seattle area, and actually heard the explosions. Too far away to see, of course.)
    Anyway, next time we’re up at the visitor center I’ll watch for you running around with your camera, lol! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is beautiful! Your imagery is vivid, detailed, a perfect description of a river and woods and winter. There is so much that is hidden by a canopy of green in the summer and can only be seen in the paler light of winter. I like the dichotomy of death and winter, it flows so naturally. The first section, especially, is poetry at its finest!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The southerly and westerly views are what I’m accustomed to. I’ve been on the trails around Lava Canyon and Harry’s Ridge and Spirit Lake a few times and am always happy to return. Respect goes out to your friends. My poem has more meaning to you then. I always recommend tourists, during the summer, to go to one of the viewpoints, since it’s so close. If you’re on one of those trails and you see someone running with a small camera in their hand, that would be me. Lol! Thanks Betty.


  10. Poignant, beautiful words, Elan. I’ve never seen Mt. St. Helens from that southerly viewpoint before. (One of my best friends died in the eruption of 1980, along with her husband and two children. Their names are on the plaque…. Any photos of the mountain are special to me.)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. So true, really, that so many could be lost but a breath away. Your write reminds me of when my children were very young and Mt St Helens blew here in Western WA and as my then husband and I were traveling down the I5 corridor through Centralia and Chehalis the once most vibrant blue sky turned black as pitch in a moment. The air was filled with sulfur but we did get through before they shut down the freeway. A business/vacation trip that just happened to be on that day. I love how you have written this and I so remember the river filling with trees cut down in an instant to strangle the waters of the Cowlitz. A different river here but so much seems to happen within and beside them. I always wonder about all the lives lost that day. Thank you for sharing this very insightful write.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I am another Annette thrilled by this piece. The text is somehow embedded in the image and all of it flows between past and present, dream and memory. I loved the empty clamshells.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Oh! Your words are always so well considered, so vivid, so deep on my heart but in this piece you’ve reached another level entirely. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

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