Lamoille River at Ithiel Falls: Poetry Inspired by the Long Trail

“Ithiel Falls is a rapids now. Once, there was what appears in old photos as a short punchbowl type waterfall, but due to the falls acting as a pinch point and backing water all the way up into Johnson village during the 1927 flood, the falls were dynamited.”

Lamoille River at Ithiel Falls
Tamra J. Higgins

Sagging and swaying, the bridge hangs over
this wind-bitten valley. Below it, the river,
once a rushing water fall, laughing
from its punch-bowl, now only cajoles rock-
islands, strewn about after blasting.
There they still stand, soft and pock-marked like us,
trying to keep it together, to out-last time.

Twisted and tortured, roots grip the boulders,
stretch to the water, steal sips, drops
for hemlock to rise into towers above cold
constant energy, marrow that flows,
washes and feeds. The falls are gone,
the boroughs are floodless, still Lamoille moves.

Dusk crawls, crumbles and falls along steep banks,
folds into fog then pauses to contemplate
what to wrap her arms around. After
the sun sneaks away slowly, she tumbles down.
Only the river stirs; all waits except water.

Whispers seep from the cold earth, from boulders
from blackness, waft through the blanketed night.
Possum, striped skunk slink here, fisher cats,
owls hunt now, drink, live under cover.

Lines of reality blur in the shadows.
Churning, enduring, the river shakes
all that clings to it and life holds on.

Tamra Higgins


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Longtrail 100

VPR is marking the 100th anniversary of The Long Trail with a month-long series of reports and essays. Through this series, we'll explore the history and future of The Long Trail and introduce listeners to the people who built, maintain and hike it today.