Knopf: Poetry Month - Sign up for Knopf's Poem-A-Day

The Salt Path

Raynor Winn and Moth, her husband of 32 years, are living a nightmare at the start of Winn's memoir, The Salt Path. Having lost everything following a court battle, they huddle under the stairs of their lovingly restored farm haven, hiding from the bailiffs come to evict them. Tragically, losing their business and home isn't the worst of it. The day after the judge's decision, they finally have time to follow up on Moth's ongoing shoulder pain and learn he's terminally ill.

Peering at packing boxes, Winn spies a copy of Five Hundred Mile Walkies, Mark Wallington's story of traversing the South West Coast Path, England's longest footpath. Homeless, penniless, with two kids at university and a bleak future, they look at each other and think, "What the f*ck, let's go for a walk." Despite the doctor's admonitions that Moth not get cold, tire himself, walk too far, carry heavy weight or look too far ahead, they fill their packs and head out for the 630-mile trek.

Winn's chronicle is filled with beauty, humor and surprises. Glorious landscape a given, the loveliest scenery is the pair themselves, their affection and easy camaraderie treasures to behold. Facing grief, harsh elements, starvation and judgment about being homeless, they relish growing feelings of achievement and purpose. When, miraculously, Moth starts to feel better, their future grows more unclear. The Salt Path is a great travelogue of surroundings, passersby and local merchants, but its heart is in Winn and Moth finding meaning in the chaos. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review