Above the trail to the summit
Clouds muzzle the mountains —
Palms of sky water, fingers of rain,
Smoke in dreams — and steps accumulate,
Placing first one foot, then the other,
Pacing out the long-gone rip-rap of the years.
Below the snow ghosts bloom beneath
Drifts of leaf-shimmer and billowed veils
Of a wind whose whispers echo back
Across the stone distances singing
To the tempo of your gasping breath:
“Once only, once only, once only, only once.”
You rest above the stream’s ravine,
Flanked by sentinels of stone, of fir,
Of trees so tall their tops dissolve
Into the breath of the mountains
Where ebony glints of Ravens’ wings
Fade to green on darker green.
Below it’s all been settled long ago.
Only on foot, stone step by stone step,
Can you climb up, climb beyond,
Climb Out of time — except for what
You carry on your back; that gossamer
Thread spooling you back to the Maze.
At the Crest, looking back, looking deep down below,
Mountainsides of mule deer graze beneath burnt pylons
Where a survey crew maps out their sad stunted river
For a grid made of maybes, of glassine and coiled copper,
To power their Matrix that melts into shadow and fades.
Above, the mountains’ stone shoulders shatter the rain.