Of course now, during the time
of our human lives, this place is held high
above the ocean, remote from the thickened light
of the sea and its milk-skinned horizon.
Here it is all a dry precipice, and schoolchildren
are told on those first frightening trips
on the heavy large buses that take them, rumbling,
up the pass at Pikes Peak or Mt. Evans,
that once the great mountain, and all the peaks
their sun-watered eyes can see, the massive bodies
of Earth blue in the distance
were once the salt sanded floor
of an altered sea, and that creatures long dead –
their children and the children of those children too,
long dead, can sometimes be found, burrowed
so deeply to dry stone that the body itself has turned
to stone, but a stone that retains a sacred imprint
of life, life’s morphing and passing.
Each child, I believe, should be told, in a whisper
meant just for him
that the stone-creature lives still
rather like a cathedral, containing all our hopes
and all our emptiness. They are the same.
The seams of this planet
in its heaving breath and anger pushed
against the soft feminine floor, covered by
sweet salt water and plants undulating,
moving with and through time
to the secret pas de deux of Earth and Moon.
The melted middle pressed iron hard
and the mountains, so young and rebellious
with their impossible cliffs and sudden moods
of wind and ice, lifted themselves away
crushed to life by
their own creator
and became, in the thin new air
something else entirely.
And somehow we know the story
and we repeat it, endlessly,
moving up, and away, and then back again.
And in this story, I cannot think
of any element of Love.
only the cycle
and the pattern
and its dusty residue.
I know the beauty, though,
of the mountain leaving the grave
of its maker. Sometimes I see it, while walking
in a park. It is a park in the middle of a Western city,
a park that is longer than it is wide.
There are cottonwood trees
that possess a satisfying thickness
and shade, a high, delicate shade
that might at any moment be pierced through
by the nearby sun, which makes the dappling,
of course, all the more precious,
this shimmering tremble that is
a dry chiaroscuro, tableau of high Earth.
The cottonwood and her rounded leaves
and pale strong bark
could not live anywhere
but a place with seeking, thin air
close to the sun
with just a touch of river water that her
intelligent roots know how to seek and to hold.
The park is lined with these trees
and it is their light, and the Kentucky-green grass,
and the red bricked
oil-moneyed homes with long lead glass windows
that draw, every morning,
the men and women with their dogs
and daily chat. Weather, health, friends
canine and other; the high current
of gossip that both guards
and defines the buried
sea-glass of the self.
The shade gives way to mid-day blinding sun
which in turn softens to evening and the glow
that only seems to come
at an ending
and the knowing
that there is