Sunday, July 25, 2010

a grassy bald, a morning, and me

back home in the mountains

I get up and get going halfway through the night,
out the window a fulling moon heads west
as if to draw me with it,
the packed van and I dodge deer on backroads
and join a few trucks and fewer cars on the interstate,
above a lopsided oval of moon,
within a pale yellow luminous ring of would-be cloud,
pulls at me to follow,
like a bulls-eye to arrow toward,
the circle a perfectly-scaled frame to the moon
that reaches to be as full to us as a circle for a night,
after awhile the clouds close their shutters over it
and drizzle then follows me for an hour or so,
the interstate lit only by our headlights
except for bright oases near towns or weigh stations,

as the sky lightens more and more join the race west,
the workday pulls people toward it,

I’d hoped to be further and higher when the Sun broke the horizon,

I leave the interstate and drive 9 miles up valley then ridge,
park, heat water and make hot chocolate,
and climb 10 minutes to the top of Max Patch,

by then the Sun’s had an hour to climb over the horizon,
as I hike right up the rounded mountain
the bright Sun is directly before me
as if I’ a deer and it’s a headlight,

the grasses up here know their job and do it well,
no wonder people for hundreds of years
kept some mountain tops clear for their animals,
we mammals need the grasses,
the seed stalks near 3 feet high today,
ranging from green and ripening to tawny and ripe,

they wave back and forth to the warm strokes of the blustering wind,

I find bearing blackberries, almost alpine in their hunkering close to the ground,
the wind here doesn’t always just caress,

Queen Anne’s lace poses for me in front of green mountains

who shade to blue mountains in the distance,
between the foreground and the background
one valley fills with the white fog of low cloud,

I find a place to sit
and I contemplate the Smokies’ main ridge,
which is high enough to hold the clouds to it
and both merge as if one,

bird calls sing of morning breaking,
and swifts soar before me on the bounty of the bugs who buzz all around me,

I like how alone on the mountain I am this morning,
I’m surprised that for more than an hour in late July
no one visits this grassy bald except for me,

no great insight comes to me up here this morning,
yet I do feel deeply right as if I’ve been traveling
and now I’m back home.

by Henry Walker
July 23, ’10

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