black and white image of evergreen forest, marsh grasses and stream

Over Snoqualmie Pass

For decades a resident of high dry country,
I hurtle northwest on the Interstate beyond
Cle Elum, bend along the endless construction
zone snaking fake Lake Keechelus’s shore
spotted with old stumps, then rise along three
ski hills lining Snoqualmie Pass, that low

hairpin Cascades saddle surveyed by George
McClellan years before his Army of the Potomac
exasperated Lincoln. At Ski Acres I search
for a chubby kid with double lace boots on long
wood skis, years of lessons reaching some
grace on snow. At the sharp north bend

I boomerang down the newer westbound lanes
contouring the South Fork’s far side, drop
into my wet green past as my parents’ faces
float before me and images from childhood
or adolescence surge when I sniff the moist
air or step onto trails leading to lakes or peaks

I once knew. I enter my first geography marked
by endless conifer ranks and low stratus cloud
mats and sheets of rain and slick snow, danger
for inexperienced drivers. But when sunshine
spangles the slopes and the sky rings blue, it’s
too good to be true, this Puget Sound lowlands

now swollen to over 5,000,000 where I, with
out-of-state plates, jostle with the car crowds,
stranger yet familiar haunting familiar
sight lines, outsider yet native. Never fails,
that low pass unlocks my past, a giant chest
whose contents loom and glitter as my car

and I descend in the thick flow.