Excerpt from PERU IN IDAHO

naked as baby mice,

shorn sheep billow the dust

around the only pond for miles

... two shepherds from Peru

in Wal-Mart tennis shoes and

twelve dogs speaking Herd—

all wait, randy for rain

¿Cuántos vidas tengo?

How many lives do I have?

—© Lynna Howard, all rights reserved

Excerpt from trail notebook:


In a designated "Wilderness," most of us are surrounded by a cocoon of humanity—even if it is only in the form of signs, regulations, and designated routes. We get a taste of aloneness, a hint of solitude, without the risks of real solitude.

Being truly alone is a different experience, an experience so far removed from day-to-day life most people don’t know they’ve lost it. Short of hauling you out into true solitude and dumping you there, I’m not sure how to explain the experience and the value of it. Discomfort may be part of the experience, but the sweep of the land will be open to you, the way it changes from mountain to high desert to low desert to river canyon. You will pay attention because you have to find your own way. At night, if you turn a slow 360 degrees to look into the dark, there will be no light except from stars and moon. There’ll be no city light reflecting off distant clouds, no truck rumble from a highway, no fellow camper telling you about his new boots. Then something happens that you had forgotten was possible or that you never knew was possible. Your whole self, your idea of yourself, will uncurl like a fist relaxing. A tight fist you didn’t know you were holding loosens, and you can be as big as the emptiness, as small as nothing. You can matter or not; it doesn’t matter. This is a plain thing, as plain as dirt. Not that you can’t come by this feeling some other way, but real solitude may thrust it upon you. That’s the value of solitude. You’re boundless for the time you are there. It’s an ideal state for a creative artist.

—©Lynna Howard, 2007, all rights reserved

All photos and text ©Lynna Howard. Appearance online as work samples is not to be construed as publication. All rights reserved. Do not copy nor distribute without the poet's permission. Thank you. Contact lynna.howard@mac.com


Lynna Howard enjoying solitude in southern Utah above, and on the banks of Bitch Creek in Idaho below.

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Photos courtesy of Leland Howard.