[Editor’s Note: This month’s “Community Voices” column is authored by runner, photographer, and writer Yash Holbrook, an American living in Stuttgart, Germany. You can follow Yash on Instagram. In this column each month, we showcase the work of a writer, visual artist, or other creative type from within our global trail running and ultrarunning community. Our goal is to tell stories about our sport and wildlands in creative and innovative ways. Read more about the concept and submit your work for consideration!]
What woods these are I think I know.
These trails are unfamiliar though;
I run the hills of oak and birch
To see which way the path will go.
I tell myself this is my church,
The trail a prayer in my search.
And with the breeze, above I hear
The choir in its leafy perch.
I smile and run; my way is clear.
I know I am no stranger here.
With every unknown hill I crest
I sense that something known is near.
The sun behind me points me west.
I run these woods, a passing guest,
With miles to go before I rest,
With miles to go before I rest.
[Author’s Note: On 4 April 2020, I did a 27-mile loop mostly through hilly trails around Stuttgart, Germany. I know the woods well, but happened to find myself on some unknown trails. Like many times before, the following variation of Robert Frost’s famous opening couplet popped into my head: “What woods these are I think I know / These trails are unfamiliar, though.” A little later, another line with the same meter came to me: “The sun behind me points me west” (it was morning). So I decided to render homage to a favorite poem during a favorite activity by composing my runner’s alternative to Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.]