Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Solstice on the Appalachian ridge

The Jump Off and the Solstice

grey wisps of racing cloud swift over the high ridges,
the sun's shafts lighten dark-green forest,
on the top ridge fir trees are silhouetted and backlit
against the rising sun who fights for the day,

as the sun climbs to its highest in the north,
we pull ourselves high, too, along the Appalachian ridge
and over Mt. Kephart, named for a great champion of the wild Smokies,

our bodies still allow us the effort we love to make,
today we want to mark the Solstice high up, like the sun,

at the Jump Off, the mountain has flaked away steeply:

a thousand foot drop opens below us
where the untrailed watershed within our view
would make Horace Kephart proud
of the vision come late to decision-makers,
the sharply-stressed mountains here at the edge of the thrust,
remember in their very bones great continental plates,
slowly, inexorably, crushing together
and rumpling, buckling, their very selves,
taking the siltstone, cold pressed into rock in an old ocean
and forcing the strata toward the vertical,

off to the west mountains gentle toward the lower, the rounder,
with the valley friendly to the material life we humans need,
here, high on the mountain, midday on the Solstice,
the levels upon levels before us are friendly
to the spiritual life we humans also need. 

by Henry H. Walker
June 21, ’15

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