Monday, January 5, 2009

Let Me Be, By The Tarn

This first poem is whimsy, but not quite...It is a true story about a real t-shirt and dead straight honest all the way up to the bus. But even that is true enough in its way. I joke sometimes that I was let off here on this planet by mistake, have been waiting a really long time for the bus back home to arrive.

Let Me Be

My best black T-shirt
Got too many holes to wear.
I threw it away.

This shirt said, small print,
“Just visiting this planet”
Oh yes, that be me!

Now I wear the holes instead.

Waiting for the bus to come
I wonder why you stare
As if I was bug-eyed, green.


A tarn (or corrie loch) is a mountain lake or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier. A moraine may form a natural dam below a tarn. [1] A corrie may be called a cirque. The word is derived from the Old Norse word tjörn meaning pond.

I know this word from playing Scrabble a long long time ago.

A few years back I had a lover named Frances who loved the outdoors, so we went on a vacation into the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise, Banf, Jasper, Maligne Lake, and up in the mountains all over the place there. I saw more than one tarn, but one in particular was just way cool and the glacier above looked for all the world like the back of an angel spread out face down on the rocks above. This was Mt. Edith Cavell and the glacier is called the Angel Glacier. You approach through a devastated landscape left behind by the retreating glacier. Just amazing.

By The Tarn

Do not drink water
From milky powder blue skies.
Don't fall in either.

Walk along the cold blue bank
And marvel at what ice does.

And think glacially,
Think slow and steady, like ice
Making long valleys.


  1. Banff, Jasper - the foothills of heaven. Here's one of those tarns of ineffable blue.

  2. Robin, of course it is - it's where I wrote that Tarn poem. But I was thinking about a much smaller pond sized tarn, just like the etymology suggests and that's what is at Edith Cavell.

    The approach is perhaps the strangest landscape I have ever been in, almost like a strip mine, but old, and with forest trying to come back, nothing quite level, hilly higher than 8-10 feet, but averaging to a gentle up slope back toward the final moraines and the cirque behind, with the Angel Glacier above. The water an even milkier blue than your photo. The landscape was not at all majestic, not like your photo, but devastated, a war zone between forest and ice, not yet enough actual soil for all the rock and gravel and sand.

    My dominant emotion, oddly was sadness for the ice losing itself like that. The ice retreat is ancient, older than this century anyway.

  3. We hiked up one of those moraine fields too, to a pool beneath the glacier but I don't remember the name. Don't think it was Edith Cavell, but truly an alien landscape as you describe. I felt very at home there. ;-)


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