On the Ownership of Mountains

We have our own private mountains, but are they already too tired from waiting for us?
Etel Adnan

a break in the rain
itself a break in the snow

i take a chance on a walk
on my own mountain

the one i live on but also
the one that lives in my head

without their leaves
and most of their birds

the moss-footed trees
couldn’t be quieter

where snow lay until yesterday
the forest floor glistens

the sun is a bright wound
that soon heals over

two ravens converse
from the tops of adjacent trees

croaking high and low
they fly off into the clouds

then the fluting of a goose
with 27 followers

so low over the trees i swear
i feel the breeze from their wings

the tiredness drains
from my legs as i walk

i’m stopped by gnarled
skeletons of mountain laurel

one still clinging
to a fallen oak leaf

what is this blight
where are the snows of yesteryear

i pass a hollow tree just in time
to see its resident porcupine

tail like a spiny piñata
disappearing up inside

below on the road a fresh litter
of chewed-off hemlock twigs

the creek is high but clear
boisterous but well-behaved

yesterday’s ice already seems
as far-fetched as a dream

but how is it that even in winter
a mountain can give clean water

to the mink and muskrats downstream
the heron and trout

a forest grows fitter as it ages
better at filtering water

better at storing carbon
even in steep mountain soil

so the oaks as they sleep
are making fresh compost

growing the mountain
they grow on

attentive in a way that i
alleged part owner could never be

whose woods these really are
i think i know

a land trust oversees their right
not to be destroyed

but the mountain belongs
as all mountains do to the moon

earth’s own private mountain
alive only in our oceanic bodies

which are made for walking
for circling like pilgrims or scavengers

for going from full to dark
to full again

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