A Day on the Platte Feb22


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A Day on the Platte

A Day on the Platte

Pepper Trail

Published in Vol. 5 Issue 2 of Written River


Paddling the slow river through flat country
Took us all of a long day
There were no bridges to pass
Only one silent trestle
Rusted iron, great concrete pillars
Abandoned for many years, you said

From time to time, the cottonwoods
Gathered on the shallow banks
Gray and green, their broken limbs
Casting misshapen clouds of shade
More often, there were only reeds
Mounded grass, and sky

Our talk flared and died down
Was of old times, old follies
Ambitions we had forgotten
But, seeing each other, remembered
It was strange to speak your words
And learn that only in my memory did they live

Mile and mile, bend after bend
We came upon a great heron
Who took heavily to the air
Flapped slowly away with no look back
Again and again, before us he flew
Always leaving, but never gone


Pepper Trail’s poetry has appeared in Comstock Review, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Borderlands, Windfall and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards.  His environmental essays appear regularly in the “Writers on the Range” series of High Country News. Trail lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.