Ripples gurgle a path in the creek.
Birds weave tracks in sand.
Rabbits, lizards, dogs leave
signs of their passage.

Wagon trains head for Oregon,
crush deep ruts in Plains.
Skiers press double ribbons in snow.

Bare feet of children
wear a path to a beach,
cut across a corner lot,
tread through woods.

Businessmen, vacationers
spill, unknowing, sign of their "flight"
from San Diego to Seattle jet trails
stream white against cobalt sky.

The track that takes years
to master and build
is the trail left by my pen
gripped between fingers and thumb.

This trail can be followed
after hundreds of years,
passes on knowledge of a people,
expresses the nature of the scribe,

fulfills the poet's mandate
to record ripples, bird tracks,
lizards, dogs, wagon trains,
skiers, children, jet trails
and the poet's dreams.


You hand me
for the last time
the key to your car.
Salt water trickles
down your withered cheeks.

That same day
my old mentor
now wrung out of words,
is helped aboard
the hospice van
for her final trip
to the ocean
foaming salt spray.

Days later
a young friend delivers
a healthy infant
from a body salty
with sweat, tears
of gratitude drop
on her squalling son.

After autumn fires,
winter rains
rush down canyons
to the Pacific, mix
their mountain waters
with the salt sea
which, in another season's turn,
rises to a sun-blasted sky,
then waters a seed
planted in a new bed.

Published in Up & Under, Quick & Dirty Review, 2005


Is that Annie? the sturdy man said,
a spooked look on his work-hardened face.
He edged toward the table,
watched my careful hands set the box
where he usually ate dinner.

I loosened the drawstring, pulled out papers,
retightened the cord on the blue velvet bag.
I looked at his wandering eyes,
said gently, No, Annie has gone.
This box contains just her ashes.

We talked a bit, he thanked me
for saving the family a dreaded task.
Then he said, nodding his head,
That's Annie. She'll be sitting there
until her burial Saturday.

Ice water trickled down my spine.
I left him glancing sideways
at the gray box in blue sack,
felt a figure clothed in fine dust

© Patricia Wellingham-Jones,, She now has a 12 x 18" poster available of a charcoal drawing by Heather Lockie illustrating her poem, "Don't Turn Away," about breast cancer. It's $16 including shipping from Patricia at PO Box 238, Tehama CA 96090, PWJ Publishing,