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The Mountain Firetower


Days and months are travelers of eternity.

Matsuo Basho


on Nose Mountain, mongrel clouds lift a sad shroud, grey and brown

valleys yield to green-up. a few furtive songbirds mate among stoic

evergreens. a little over bird cries, "teacher, teacher." on Nose

Mountain, weather instruments stand alone. the white weather

station stands alone. the clear rain gauge stands alone and i, like the

steel firetower, stand alone watching for forest fires while the

mountain works on me. but the firetower is condemned, unstable,

dangerous even and i its captive migrant. i scratch my crotch like

men do in public then enter the cedar cabin to a dawn chorus of

bombings in the Middle East, nuclear weapons broiling around the

cracked globe and women telling their war rape stories. i turn down

the heat and wander outside searching for something to hold onto—

the ladder on the firetower, too cold. i see myself as a white-rumped

hawk hovering above thinking, no hands. lingering snow drifts

disappear. the alpine magnetic field surges crackling the wind's

larynx. i wonder how not to discipline a specter. i see and hear purple

fairy orchids hidden under spruce. i see and hear in between

everything i have known. i see myself as a white wolf howing,

"when will the cities ring of freedom, when?" the mountain shakes, a

muted orgasm and says nothing. it's too soon. i have just arrived. i

haven't collapsed into the silence or something naked. but an albiino

bear appears and grasps the rain gauge with its grinning teeth and

dances iinto the bush while a flock of pink bohemian waxwings fly

away with the weather station. "ah, relative freedom," i shout to the

moon's peeking skull. but i am afraid. will defiant mountains be

destroyed? the mountain has much to say, it cannot all be translated.

and will we too disappear?


In the illuminated darkness

On a rocky mountain

Wild shadows

Eclipse the moon



[Originally published in Breathing Nose Mountain by Vivian Demuth, Long Shot Productions, Hoboken, NJ, 2004. First reprinted in NHS 2004, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs04/Vivian_Demuth.html.]