Sarah McCartt-Jackson

Traveling Through

We remembered the us we forgot
or never knew. Or learn as we stomp through snail-leaf
loam riverbottom and switchback. Sleep
in separate rooms like our lives–
apart. For years, I adored you like a fiddlefern,
uncurling and curled, wondergreen scales
I might hope to listen to like harmonica teeth. It’s hard to
listen to ghost notes unplayed. But how

I tried and loved your unknown coast, blindly
and without thinking about sleeper waves or
tideswell. I loved it all and do.

And now, you push me to lead every hiking path, step aside
for me to go first in a place you’ve only ever gone first.
I don’t know how to
lead except by wandering, pausing for those hornets
that circle us in the logfall.

Here is what I know: I was afraid of us, afraid
to see if the bodies we were were still
churned. To see if our green eyes weren’t the same

only but were also different (your right-specked iris with its sweet
black moon).

And here we went into the sunset, a train full of people alone or tied
to someone, and neither you nor I could be anything
other than what we were—and we were still us:

sweet fog-scrubbed maples, wet-matted with moss,
staggered limbs, top-broke spines.

Let us
let you show us how to show each other
a rough-skinned newt escape a hard-tromped boot,
a snail’s wet-antennaed eyes turn.

Teach us how to hear each other:
coastal fog-licked ferns,
Pacific-cold wet ankle,
rainstruck limbs heavy with moss
and breathing its ripening spores