Two Poems

Horseshoe Trail 

Deep, coal-black, thick
like buttercream frosting,
this soil—hides 
layers of fossil floor, 
a cake baked with seashells
petrified trees—in dreams 
I still bury my face in it, 
smell sediment of childhood sojourns:
Farrell’s pond, Paradise Place, the Old Quarry
surrounded by maple woods
old farm portions, marked 
by tumbled rock walls. 

Setting out for adventure
on Horseshoe Trail, our dogs lead 
through cathedral canopy, then divagate 
furiously investigating leaf litter. 
We follow yips and wags over 
burial mounds, we think, 
leave small offerings:
moss, maple seed, a stone.

Fallen trees are lands 
of richly painted salamanders.
I scoop up bright orange 
newts for my fern garden 
on the north side of the house, 
a row of finely feathered fronds
neatly arranged with bark 
houses for warty toads.

Giant slate slabs serve
as stages for song and dance
or caves to crawl into
should it rain. In our drama
we are chased along 
the underground railroad
that silently passed through
this county.

The trail, named for its shape 
bends us, we arrive 
in a different place 
at road’s end, a new beginning.
Flushed faces, pockets-filled-
with stories
our homing instinct strong, we 
mount make-believe horses 
and gallop to complete the circle.

My long hair flies 
out on shafts of clear mountain air
its lengthy tangle still occupies 
a nest somewhere 
in that expanse of maple wood. 

The Hills

smelled of
earthen musk
dank dew 
suffused in morning air
a dog’s return
after a night of prowl.

How I want to know
where you’ve been
oh wandering hillsides of
oak and manzanita
bobcats and bats. 
What night adventures 
owl swooped the vole
and weasel left her hole?

I can tell by your
smug smile 
you bristled 
trotting toes of coyote,
scream of doe in anguish,
stories writ in churned soil 
by centipedes and spells cast 
by unfurling Datura.

While slung in bedsheets 
I tossed, in dreamless dip and doze
on a boring raft of bed 
its smell of dead lavender,
then greet the day 
with too many words and
nothing to say.

Karin Uphoff
Personal Website | Noyo Review Pieces

Karin Uphoff is author of Botanical Body Care; Herbs and Natural Healing for your Whole Body (2007), however poetry is the language of her heart. She has published poems in Noyo River Review (2015, 2024), Writers of the Mendocino Coast anthologies Hooked (2018), Erosion (2021), California Writers Club Literary Review (2022), and Lake County Bloom (2023).