Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rattlesnake Mountain

Like paradise
From alabaster glaciers
Birth trees like
Like stubborn soldiers
Raising the bright fall canopy
            To heroic skies

Hunting for moose tracks
Among the pine needle carpets
Climb and sweat
In the fall breeze

Slough up rocky slopes
Jagged hills with slip-leaves
Just for us tourists

Serene clearing
To spy Crescent Lake
And miles of trees and skies

Not another soul around to share
The treasured stones, the good musty Earth
The dreamy majesty of land
Of the America that still is, at least here.


There is a giant nightlight in the sky.
It is the opener of possibility,
It is guide and guardian
To young boys skinny-dipping,
night-swimming in an off-limits beach;
To mischievous teens lighting up
in Vermont graveyards where weeds
grow in depressions left
by collapsed coffins and reading
tombstones wondrously on their way
back to where the women are;
To children playing flashlight tag
in odorful, green fields at night,
To drivers who say to themselves:
“Why isn’t anyone else slowing down
to take a look at this?  This is
justified rubbernecking!”;
To campers who urinate on trees
and must wrestle with thirsty mosquitoes
and the danger of hungry bears sniffing
out their plump hot-dogs
and inexpensive beer;
To partygoers who stare out
across the Hudson River toward New Jersey
-- Yes even New Jersey can bask in its light --
and see the George Washington Bridge lit up;
To people wandering outside
to escape indoor life.

Those stars; they move from dwarf
to giant without complaint
and at their own sweet pace.
They may be dead already.
But Earth’s nightlight is
awake every night.
It changes its appearance
to fit the changing seasons.
It has its moments of brilliance.

It is like you.