Lost River, New Hampshire
by Barbara Bald

Moss-covered giants, pushed askew by glacial forces,
form a gorge fifty-feet deep.
Like emery boards on fingernails, cascading waters
tumble rock, scour edges into potholes.
Boulder caves, eons old, beckon visitors,
entice them into black holes of unknown depth.

A challenge for some — biceps ready,
chests puffed into a make-my-day attitude.
Unloading pockets, leaving backpacks trailside,
adults push, pull, contort bodies into crevices
their children scramble through.

Remembering when sleek frames fit through easily,
some come face-to-face with bellies, love handles,
pounds they meant to shed last spring.

Grandparents, like pack mules, carry water bottles,
shades, keys, cell phones, extra layers.
They tag along holding hands with
agile memories
that wear their faces.

At the Lemon Squeezer entrance:
dressed in hiking boots or flip-flops, convertible pants
or mini-skirts, some visitors rally to Mommy you can do it!
Others, eyes wide, palms sweating, ignore all pleas to enter.
Some, simply pass by, intimate
with their limits.

Here, people from all nations, languages, and backgrounds,
worried over being stuck or fear-struck.
laugh in a common language.
In shapes and sizes as unique as rocks,
people of all races agree
to help each other’s children through the caves.

Together they challenge the same adversaries —
time, age, change,
fear itself.
Cameras flash, locking hope in place.

PHOTO: Paradise Falls, a 35-foot waterfall at Lost River Gorge, New Hampshire (

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For several summers, I worked at Lost River Reservation in Kinsman Notch, just west of North Woodstock, New Hampshire. Lost River is a series of caves that visitors can crawl through and listen for the sounds of a river that makes its way under boulders and boardwalks. My job was to light the candles that lit their way underground, hold their cameras and belongings and test their body frames through a gauge to be sure they could fit through The Lemon Squeeze. Besides being in a scenic natural area, it was a place that engendered peace and excitement. It was an amazing job mostly because I got to see people of all nationalities, not only getting along, but helping one another. It surely convinced me of our oneness.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant, and freelance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies, and her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. She has published two full-length books, Drive-Through Window and Other Voices/Other Lives. Her chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. She has written articles for Heart of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Magazine, and other local magazines. She lives in Alton, New Hampshire, with her cat Catcher and some very personable goldfish.

PHOTO: The author at the Bretton Woods Ski Area zip line, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.