Literary Hook: Serene beauty in the Pacific Northwest

Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Every year, my husband and I have a pilgrimage to the great Pacific Northwest. Our travels have taken us to the Oregon coast for many years. For the past five years, we have had artist residencies in Port Townsend, Wash. Last month included a mini-book tour there and to Seattle. I was particularly struck by the difference in the serene areas of the Olympic Peninsula and the truly horrific traffic of Seattle, which was, quite frankly, unbearable.

Though I have yet to write a “traffic in Seattle poem,” and perhaps never will, the following poem arose from the more tranquil areas of the Olympic Peninsula.

At Lake Crescent, Washington

Suppose you find yourself in some in-between space,

where no doors are clearly marked:

Enter here, you who would move forward.

Suppose even the currents of your body lost their way,

and strange manifestations disturbed the waters of your blood,

disrupted the electric currents of your heart,

beating faster than a tom-tom in a wild warrior dance.

The chaos of your pulse and loadstones of fatigue

confuse you in contrapuntal castigations.

Then you might seek a lonely, ravaged place

where two mountains meet at Lake Crescent,

a narrow passageway between them.

Let yourself be ferried on shimmering glacial water

through a narrow portal no matter where it leads.

Know that when you pass through in-between

you finally find serene.

First published in The Alleluia Tree.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet.

From the Oct. 10-16, 2012, issue

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