Where we trod

I’m almost at the end of Jilly’s Jim Harrison challenge. What’s a few months between friends?

This quote is:

“Only the water is safe” ~


Footprints in the sand left where we walked,

traces in the mud of where we trod,

and in the dust our dancesteps, all effaced,

while from some lofty cloud, the finger points

at the mess of lives, of mirror sand.

Your handprint on the handle of the door,

breath that mists the window of the train,

the word you wrote backwards for me to read—

love, it said—before you turned away,

and rolled away on dull gunmetal rails,

your perfume lingers, oil daub on my face.


I wade through water now,

my tread silent as fishes,

my passing leaves no trace,

no tears cling to this slickness.

Like sand between the fingers,

and grains of star seeds falling,

no words have yet been written,

in the story of the river.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

16 thoughts on “Where we trod”

  1. The motifs thoughout of the sand, the water in its many forms, and the footsteps – just magnificent! The story of the river grabs the Harrison quote and shakes every grain of meaning out of it and is so filled with symbolic gut-wrenchers!

      1. Ok, so the water is symbolic of baptism, a cleansing, yes? Sand is symbolic is change? Footsteps are symbolic of the journey/passage of time? Am I getting warm here?

      2. I wouldn’t say baptism, but water clears the slate, carries away the debris, is never still, elusive, intangible. Water is eternal, endless. A source is magical, a well is a mirror, lakes are a piece of the sky or the eye of a giant. I’m on your wavelength about footsteps. I enjoy mythological symbols, certain animals, trees, fruits. I’m a pagan at heart, I suppose.

      3. Well, in lit in general, water = baptism – not necessarily a spiritual thing, but it represents change to the one who comes out of the water. For example, in Fahrenheit 451, when Montage crosses the river there is no returning to what he had been – he is changed… baptism. ‘It clears the slate, carries away debris…’

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