Updated date:

Two Hundred Miles: A Narrative Poem

Chris has written poetry for 28 years though he focuses on short fiction. But watch out for the occasional twisted nursery rhyme.

The Summit of Mount Washington

Mount Washington is the highest elevation in the northeastern U.S. at 6,288 feet.

Mount Washington is the highest elevation in the northeastern U.S. at 6,288 feet.

Author's Note

This is a poem/story about my son, Dan. I wrote about this same endeavor recently in essay form. I felt inclined to present it also as a poem. If you want a fuller context, you can read the essay, A Promise to Keep, either before or after you read the poem.

Two Hundred Miles

His name is Dan

My son, that is,

And he’s a man.

He’s proven this.


A promise he made

To his dear mother

He would not evade

Or listen to others


Who bade him think

Of moving on.

Forget that thing

You told your mom.


For seventeen weeks

He’s been on a mission

He’s been on his feet

To keep his commission


On the Appalachian Trail,

You’ve heard of that.

Georgia to Maine

As a matter of fact.


#


He began this quest

Ten years ago

The family did invest

Supporting from home.


Cancer had come,

That horrid beast,

To challenge Dan’s mom

To say the least.


Three months along

Dan caught a bus

Something was wrong

Get home, he must.


His mother lay

Upon her bed.

And to her son,

This is what she said.


Promise me, Dan

You’ll finish the trail

In this one plan

You cannot fail.


At 3 in the morn

She breathed her last

We began to mourn

The die was cast.


#


Ten years have passed

Yet Dan recalls

Those words, her last.

The Trail still calls.


From Michigan’s shore

Sailed his boat south

To the Gulf of Mexico

and a river’s mouth.


The boat he sold

On one fine day

And set his goal

Up Georgia way.


He stood at last

Upon the Trail

With memories past

He would not fail.


How does one hike

Two thousand miles?

Dan set his site

On his mother’s smile.


Until today,

The task not done

The end so near

Tempted to run


Two hundred miles more,

The hardest steps,

To a heart restored

And a promise kept.

Dan's Mother, Sandy

Taken in Newfoundland in the fall of 2007.

Taken in Newfoundland in the fall of 2007.

© 2018 Chris Mills

Comments

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 16, 2018:

Shauna, Thank you for reading the story and poem. Dan has quite a story to tell.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 16, 2018:

Mark, I appreciate you visiting and leaving such a kind comment.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 16, 2018:

Beautiful poem, Chris. I read the full story and look forward to reading Dan's account when he finishes his trek.

Mark Tulin from Santa Barbara, California on July 15, 2018:

Nicely done on both counts--poetry and the promise.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 11, 2018:

Suhail, I appreciate the emotion you felt as you read. I believe Dan is now entering a stretch of the AT in Maine that will finally be relatively flat. He has come out of the White Mountains. Ahead, though, is Mount Katahdin and the brutal climb to the finish.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on July 11, 2018:

I read this poem with tears brewing in my eyes. This was a masterpiece that pays a rich tribute to a son's commitment to his mom.

Reportedly, the last 200 miles of the AT in Maine are the most crucial to traverse, because of the fickle weather, the difficult terrain, and the fatigue that sets in.

I will read the essay shortly.

Regards,

Suhail

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 11, 2018:

Rinita, Yes, Dan is a man of honor. You got that message loud and clear. Thank you for reading the poem and for your kind comments.

Rinita Sen on July 11, 2018:

I feel two things right now, Chris. One - speechless about your son's honour of word to his mother, and two - happy about the effortless flow of verses with which you conveyed this commitment to the world. I will read the essay next to learn more about the trek details. Thank you for sharing.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 10, 2018:

Michael, I have family here on HP, and I have my biological family. The two meet right here with me. In that sense, you are part of the family. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 10, 2018:

Sean, writing that poem was a labor of love. I will send Dan the link so he can read it as well. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 10, 2018:

Jack Shorebird, I appreciate your comment. Thank you.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 10, 2018:

Eric, that bond is real. You, Dan, and I share that tie that binds.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 10, 2018:

Shyron, thank you for recognizing this as an issue of integrity for Dan. That is certainly how he sees it.

Michael Milec on July 10, 2018:

Both, essay as well as a poem docked deeply in my mind.Thank you very much Chris for sharing a significant life story, sentiment close to the heart, making impression as if being a member of the family...

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on July 10, 2018:

My friend, Chris, I send to you and your son my Love, my admiration and a small tribute: To Sandy and Dan

A mother gives birth

An adventure on Earth

A mother is Love

A white free dove

When the dove is gone

She lives in her son

A boy who has lost

Don't count any cost

To the mountain's high

To reach her in the sky

A promise has kept

A soul has wept

Two spirits as one

Sandy and Dan

A new life has begun

For the dove and her son

Sean

jgshorebird on July 10, 2018:

A subtle and powerful ode.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 10, 2018:

I had read the essay before and it is one that sticks in our memory. So I dove right into the poem. Tears welled up. Men who hike the back trails share an unspoken bond and felt this in both you and him.

The love is amazing.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 09, 2018:

Wonderful tribute to your son's integrity Chris, I did enjoy your poem.

Blessing my dear friend.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 09, 2018:

Thanks, John. The essay gives much more detail. I appreciate you taking time to read this poem.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on July 09, 2018:

This is a wonderful tribute to your son and his quest to finish the trail and satisfy his promise to his Mom. Thanks for sharing this touching poem Chris. I still have to read the essay, but I will.