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In the Cascades

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JiminAlaska April 7, 2019, 9:21 AM

    Good on yer, Gerard!

    & that’s why I moved to Alaska over fifty years ago ago to raise my kids; we were able to find, and my kids found, and my granddaughter can still find miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles and miles and miles.

  • Casey Klahn April 7, 2019, 1:52 PM

    Well done.

    Add the Olympics, and we have a deal.

    Enjoying your writing, as always.

  • jd April 7, 2019, 2:34 PM

    As I’ve often thought before, you are quite the poet, Gerard.

  • Howard Nelson April 7, 2019, 7:27 PM

    Superman sees through stone. steel, and wood whilst Poetman, Gerard, sees and sings of what’s true, and grand, and good.

    And JiminAlaska knows that grandeur too.

  • Missy April 8, 2019, 7:47 AM

    The first three lines brought to mind “Riprap” by Gary Snyder, and then I read your sixth line, “Pacing out the long-gone rip-rap of the years.” Very nice.

  • Vanderleun April 8, 2019, 9:33 AM

    Literary Reference Catching of the Century Award with Laural Leaf Cluster to Missy!

    But I should add that there was a lot of rip-rap on the path during that hike.