The Tracks We Leave


Footprints (Photo credit: Peter Nijenhuis)

There are times you look back
at the tracks you’ve made and wonder
whose feet fit in those prints.
They can’t be yours, they seem so neat,
so sure, long-strided, suitable
for framing, if you could frame
such sweetly blemished snow.

Other times you don’t wish
to risk even a glance, knowing
you’re trailing jumbled smudges
like some drunken dancer
with mismatched shoes,
no sense of rhythm, mumbling
a prayer for a sudden thaw.

Eventually spring comes
for us all,
rinsing away the perfection
that cannot be,
because nothing is flawless.
Not footprints in snow, or in mud,
or in the sand on a beach.

The tides of time leave very few
beyond today’s impressions others to read.
Oh, but to have left them captured
by even your own memory!
That might be what
even you might agree
is poetry!

28 thoughts on “The Tracks We Leave

  1. Beautiful, Joe….lovely, reflective piece…I can relate to that feeling of imperfection and ‘was that really me?’ But you continue to write wonderful poetry and your descriptions are, as always, terrific! 🙂 xox

  2. thank goodness for spring that comes for all of us eh? too many give up before it gets here…and there are def points i would rather not look back at….just saying….ha, i know what it looks like…smiles.

  3. Love your adaptation if I may say to Footprints In the Sand. You develop it far better than that one. I enjoy your poetic expression, Joe. Keep writing for us your words that speak life.

  4. I resonate with this. Sometimes it’s just enough to keep going, keep moving and not sink into the sand. I love how you equate poetry with capturing both the good and the difficult things in our lives and you do so eloquently. Well done!

  5. The foot prints captured in the poems, hmm, maybe today we posted poems about the same phenomenon? I am not sure, Through the penultimate stanza, I cruised on the ideas of the footprints and imperfection, but in the last stanza, such a hopeful plea!

  6. Joe, this is a real meditation. I love the lines:

    “rinsing away the perfection
    that cannot be,
    because nothing is flawless.”

    Sometimes I do meditate on my feet…where they’ve taken me that have been grace-filled and where they’ve taken me that have not been so good.

  7. I rarely like poetry with exclamation points in it haha (one of my oddities, nothing personal) but I actually like this poem as a whole.

    The first two stanzas are absolutely amazing. Very strong and emotional to me.

    Nicely done. ThankYou so much for sharing this with all of us. I’m grateful I read this tonight.

    • I struggled with that exclamation point, Gretchen. Took me 15 minutes to write this poem, 5 of which were a wrestling match with a Shepherd’s crook punctuation mark. In the end, it pinned me. Thanks for your comment.

  8. True and connect it all quite well. The credit for the photo is a friend? If they are footprints of yours or family’s it’s a precious one. If not, I hope you have a like one made that is personalized 😉

  9. strong work… I think you could leave off the final stanza – “The tides of time…agree
    is poetry!” – and still have a strong or perhaps stronger composition. Without the final stanza, you have a poem starting and ending with footprints. [shrug] Great photograph, great poem, glad I stopped by.

    • I considered that, myself, Todd. And, since all of these pieces are “in flux,” I may revisit that that thought. (Also, it relieves me of my dreaded Exclamation Point Death Match. Thanks, very much.

  10. Like a shed snake skin forgotten, like prints that wash away with the tide, poetry fades but not without beauty of the moment, of the effort. Nothing is flawless — everything is a mumbled prayer.

    Great phrases — thanx for letting me play with them and with your thoughts.

  11. Superb track indeed!!! I really like “Eventually spring comes/ for us all,” This is a much thought provoking work to be treasured for long, long time!!! Yes, this is poetry.

  12. In the snow, on the beach, in the mud, our footprints become our residue, our legacy, our introduction to many more folks who will happen along, glance at them, compliment them with tracks of their own, their personal imprints. Love your last stanza; Spring is here today, but no one told the weather man.

  13. Do you know the story of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet tracking in the snow? If not, read it and you’ll understand why my life feels like that much of the time. And then, just occasionally, I get one of those too-rare but oh-so precious moments of “Did I do that? Did I write that?”

    Thank goodness for the tide/thaw.

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