The Story of a Mountain

In the back of my town grew a mountain
bleached and etched with a violent language.
She stood up to fires so fierce they would jump the breaks
blow apart tree tops. In the wake
she was clothed in the silence of stars.
Her shadows bore witness to the cruelness of children:
how they tried to humiliate the poet's daughter
leaving each day from a dark wooden home
where the clothing smelled of smoke
and the cupboards were filled with crackers.

In the lower elevation    at the dead end of one of her roads
was a house with a stable and horses counting
in the compost of the pipe corral.
Above windows lit by kerosene
insects dropped their brittle wings
in the terrible heat of summer.
On the outward curves of the mountain roads
the young were taken every year. Crashing
in her dipping valleys landing in pieces
at the icehouse    the fire station    and Shin Road.

But she is a mountain we could fall into
never off of.
And in adulthood
as we gather the forces of our own geography
and we fall asleep
does it creep into your dreams

Poems by John Waldman:

The Water Month
The Heat
Of Madrid
The Lake on the Border
The Woman in the Hat
The Jewelry Box
The Corner
Huber's Tavern
The House in the Town
From the Home of Furious Wonder
From What Is Left Behind
The Den of Finitude
The Story of a Mountain

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets