Jun 142024
Still Walking, More Poetry

In talking about active transportation safety I often point out that a driver who gets out of a vehicle immediately becomes a pedestrian (as long as we’re labeling people by modes) and needs places to move along and across the street. The same is true of someone riding a bike, riding transit, getting off a train or plane or ferry, using a mobility device on the sidewalk or path. We are all pedestrians.

The original bicycle design was called a “running machine” and offered a new way of walking, with one’s body carried by the velocipede and forward motion created by kicking against the street. Almost like today’s foot scooter, in a way. As the invention evolved the bicycle became the most efficient form of transportation on the planet in terms of calories burned to move oneself.

Walking may require more effort but brings its own delights, hence this round-up to follow my previous collection of walking poems. As with all of these collections, I list a few lines to give you a taste; for the full experience follow the links.

“She’s on the horizon … I go two steps, she moves two steps away. I walk ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps ahead. No matter how much I walk, I’ll never reach her. What good is utopia? That’s what: it’s good for walking.”
— Eduardo Galeano

“My Body Effervesces” by Anna Swir (Anna Świrszczyńska)

The foot skims the earth
which gives way like compressed air.
An elastic duo
of the earth and of the foot. A dance
of liberation.

“A Walk” by Rainer Maria Rilke

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far beyond the road I have begun,
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has an inner light, even from a distance-

“Mornings” by Susan Aizenberg

That walk

to the diner, the last stars fading out,
the sky lightening from black to blue to white,
was his time. He walked in all weather,
let each season touch him all over,
lifted his face to rain and sun.

“The Appointment” by Mark Nepo

What if, on the first sunny day,
on your way to work, a colorful bird
sweeps in front of you down a
street you’ve never heard of.

You might pause and smile,
a sweet beginning to your day.

Or you might step into that street
and realize there are many ways to work.

“Why I Stay Up Late Walking” by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

I walk not so much from,
but not so much to—

more that I walk through—
my ribs and lungs
become ladder rungs
that form a path

between earth and sky,

“Looking, Walking, Being” by Denise Levertov

I look and look.
Looking’s a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.
Walking wherever looking takes one.

“To the Ancient Order of Legs” by W.S. Merwin

you that have borne the world
this far in us all walk on
light on your feet as
the days walk through the days

“Santiago” by David Whyte

The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,

“Walking the Boundary” by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

is another kind of path.
I follow its edges,
one foot on each side,
straddling no and yes.

“Here Is the Road” by Arlene Gay Levine

The road waits.
Do not ask questions but when it invites you
to dance at daybreak, say yes.
Each step is the journey; a single note the song.

“We only learn to walk when we risk falling down, and this equation holds—with commensurately more complex dynamics—our whole lives long.”
—Krista Tippett, “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living”

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