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:
TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets