The week was mad, we agreed,
Confusing the brain like a tie-dyed veil.
It wasn't so much plan as release, then,
That led us to the wilderness.
At first we just drove;
Stopping now and then to watch unnamed streams
Hurtle down sheer limestone walls,
Or laugh at trendy tourists herding to Banff.
Our way was less defined --
We wound through man-blasted caverns
And, with some surprise,
At last arrived at the Springs.
We made the pilgrimage at dusk,
Passing giddy families returning to the comforts
Of scorched marshmallows and bug spray.
The evening bite of alpine air
Sent billows off the sulphur pool
As we fumbled in pockets
For the necessary fees.
An industrial change-room;
Swim-clad bodies protested in gooseflesh
As tender feet rushed over rough, cold concrete.
We nearly ran to the water,
Pretending not to know or care about the old-egg smell,
And plunged with relief into the natural warmth.
Steam rose in the half-light,
Obscuring a chiselled mountain face
And the ledge where marmots watch the world.
The street lamps seemed ghostly in the mist:
Unreal beacons from another, cruder plane.
My mind following the water
Down crevasses to the planet's soul,
Accepting its fire,
Then bursting forth;
Returning inner heat to frozen hearts.
A light snow fell
As we walked to camp by flashlight;
Chill cousin of the warmth we'd left behind.
We did no talk,
But somewhere in our muffled steps
Or echoed in the silent pines
A quiet thanks was offered
I still believe,
Most happily received.
Not much to say here. It's an old poem, and I'd write it differently now.
Everyone should have a chance to experience a hot spring in cold weather, though. It does something to the mind, somehow.