Patrick Donnelly

Hidden Spring

People have died in these mountains,

the sign at the bottom warned,

do not attempt a trail

beyond your capacity.


After an hour’s climb I reached

the old sanatorium, and panted

at the door of those rooms now choked

with thistle and prickly pear,

where the sick had drunk their milk

and slept on cold porches, forbidden

even the small exertion of brushing their hair.


I won’t scratch my name into these walls,

as others have done,

                                        but my voice, yes,

I would like to throw that

onto these cliffs, to hear it

come back, from where I see

reflections of some pool,

reachable or not, 

I don’t yet know.




“Hidden Spring” is from The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003).