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I’ve been out of studio this week. No worries, I’m fully recovered from last week’s kidney stone attack (thanks for your well wishes). But with Jihong’s university on spring break, we’ve headed for the hills—the Black Hills, that is, on the western side of South Dakota.

The Black Hills are in the middle of a March thaw. They still have enough snow for Jihong to ski, but the season will likely end next week.

Hiking is trickier. Yesterday we managed three miles on treacherous trails, patchy with thick ice, before we gave up.

Today, we’re on a much easier six-mile out-and-back trail between the towns of Lead and Deadwood. The temp is 40º F., comfortable if we keep moving. On the ridge lines, the breeze musses our hair.

Despite the ponderosa pines all around us, the landscape feels dead and brown, still asleep. No birdsong yet. The trail can’t decide if it wants to be ice or mud, but we can keep our footing.

Somewhere in the middle of a downhill, the land tells me to give you this poem.


Photo by Cristina Glebova on Unsplash


Phyllis Cole-Dai

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry. She lives in Brookings, South Dakota, USA.

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