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North Shore Triptych, a poem by Charlotte Melin





North Shore Triptych


1. Split Rock

Beneath the lighthouse

the view opens to water

past the pebble beach—

the cold and solemn blue 

of Lake Superior, washing

the hardest stones endlessly 

into smooth, round cobble. 


2. Gooseberry Falls

On the climb to the falls,

only forest is always visible—

rosehips, moss, cedar.

The sound of water mutes

the quiet step by step.

Every wood handhold 

is written over with initials

and forgotten names.

Circling back, we cross

a metal walkway with a message

chalked on the rusty railing:

everything will be fine.


3. Tributary

A swaying bridge spans 

the Great-lake River 

that rushes over rugged

slate and greywacke— 

rock tilted by force

that now seems scenic 

as we pause to look out

over the whitewater,

forgetting for a moment

the violent history

above the earth and below.

Charlotte Melin grew up in Indiana and returns to visit. Recently retired from the University of Minnesota, she lives in Northfield and has published widely about German poetry, the environmental humanities, and teaching.