Categories: Gay Writes

Mountains

By Ked Kirkham

Mountains, 1
East,
light contours the range
in silhouette;
from here
soft, undulating.
The snow horse emerges
out of the shadows
and snow,
climbing higher
toward the peaks.
West, the island,
Its colors indistinct;
dry beds
reflect no light.
Day will come,
flooding the night.
Light will come,
pushing the dark
beyond the lake.
I cannot name the peaks,
but like family, I recognize them;
the elders, the wise ones
encircling the crib where I was lain.

Mountains, 2
Russet foothills climb to the rock face,
reaching finally the dark
of pine and fir,
of granite and scree.
Snow in the chutes
and northern slopes
delineates the sharp edge,
the age, of the Wasatch.
Elements of range and basin;
twisting spines between canyons,
spread of bench and bluff,
the cut of creek and stream
between fragile walls of clay,
that in turn will break apart
and wash away.

Mountains, 3
Winds,
heavy with cool
and blue,
clear the air;
winnowing sunlight from night,
carding fibers of cloud
and weaving a mantilla
of light
to lay across the mountains.

Mountains, 4
I live on the edge of the Great Basin, the eastern bench;
below its canyons, above the lake.

The Great Salt Lake, where I imagine my parents,
In the keep of the island winds
roam freely, finally.

I have been to the western edge,
to the northern and southern limits.
I have slept in the heat,
hiked in the cold,
burned in the sun,
gazed into the dark when I am away from the cities.

To skirt the Promontory Mountains,
ride through the cut in the Traverse Mountains,
to wind through the Oquirrh mining districts
or summit the Wasatch passes thrills me;

Never shall I tire
Of the sudden overlook,
Or the spreading panorama
In the valleys of the mountains.

I know I am of the interloper;
The invader.
I mourn the loss our presence incurred;
So, I will keep this place sacred
whenever I am able.

I will honor the water,
I will restore the soil;
I will protect the animal brothers
And I will respect the elders,
The ancient ones who live still
in the mountains.

Gay Writes is a DiverseCity Series writing group, a program of SLCC’s Community Writing Center. The group meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, 6:30-8 p.m., 210 E. 400 South, Ste. 8, Salt Lake.

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