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Toward High Point

Following you westward along the steep ridge trail
in January, I step in your snow-crisped tracks
on oak and beech leaf parchment. The waterfall
careers down among umbers and blacks
of ice-filigreed rock past tattered moss,
polishing the shale cliff to a dark gloss.

Old mountains, these, wearing and worn.
Through tree trunks, the edge of the gorge appears,
and the opposite ridge bristling with spruce and thorn,
and beyond, the valley, and the reservoir’s
tarnished sheen, and still farther, hills
gathering bluish weight as the sky pales.

Through many seasons now, I’ve followed you
along this path. With your camera, you’ve snapped
thousands of scenes, and I’ve sketched the view
from the look-out boulder to the opposite ledge wrapped
in ice, or greenly fringed. But how to cram
a mountain in a pad or photo album?

At home in the cabin, we’ll find our sweet routine:
supper, with avocadoes overripe,
canned fish, your cabbage stew, wine
to bless this peace. As we putter toward sleep,
I’ll take time off my wrist and lay it on the bureau, while
with each tick the alarm clock heaves us over a stile.

For now, we stride on an ancient sea-floor thrust
to the sky, we swing along pressing old damage down
under our tread, leaves crackle, and we trust
the mountain to hold us. But how dark you’ve grown
heading into the sunset, a silhouette
rimmed in snow-light, gilt-edged, and violet.

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