Solo Female Hiking Is Just Walking
So I walk five miles to see what remains
Of the ice age then another mile to camp
To see what remains of my resolve

I am still
I’m not surprised at all to discover
Small

The first person to tell me happy birthday
In the hostel I chose because a woman owned it
And because it’s my birthday

Was Karen with the old injury
A broken leg that hurt her less at elevation
So she retired to elevation

            Good morning, birthday girl!

She spoke like a woman with children
I was grateful like a daughter

Like any river
                       the Rio Grande
When I finally really swam in it was cold
And sharp and easy to imagine

Washing me meaninglessly away

And maybe because it’s my birthday
I would rather live a long life

But I’d settle for an end without actual violence

Thirst’s impersonal collaboration with time
Lung with river water

Where I am small isn’t the same as I am nothing

High and dry
In the empty lakebeds of this old earth

Where I walk through every corner of its turning air alone

Even with this body

Healthy though I am
Able and grateful

I wear a red whistle I bought for the city
And have never tested

Worried it’ll pierce the ear of some
Nearby honest animal

I save it for the emergency I keep alert to keep from ever meeting
Though in doing so somewhere some other good woman comes to harm

Statistically speaking

Not nearly all of us will walk away without paying
Though we do not owe
Ourselves or the bodies that bear us

That bear our children headfirst
Into terrible odds

To any man

I have no children

Still each time I learn a new way to be more fully in the world without fear
I promise to teach my daughter
It is possible to learn to be more fully in the world

Without fear

And if she’s a boy
To teach him to honor her step
Most when it looks like defiance
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