THIRTY-THREE THOUSAND FEET
The burnt rusted wreckage of crumbling
hills fills canyons with the rub of time
and slant. The lightning-bolt switchback
trail climbs the naked face and on top
a giant polar bear rug of snow, legs
splayed, face buried in granite paws.
A volcano with labial caldera, frigid
and smokeless, hunkers down for the next
six hundred years. Cashmere clouds
graze the high desert, their shadows lazing
behind them on the rumpled ground.
Do parents own their children the way
clouds own their shadows? Do lovers?
The sun takes a spongy drink out of dimpled
whitecapped lakes, and offstage a relentless
can-crushing moon chugs the ocean tides.
In the pickled wastes of fallow farms,
in the pocked draws, pans and hollows
there are insects waving, clicking
“Have a Nice Day,” their antennae provoking
every possibility. The failing light turns
trees to rose petal marmalade and the crimson
sky spreads a lead glass ceiling, waiting
for this earthquake fracture of feeling:
Dive in the river, even if it’s dry.
Force pump the well, even if it’s dry.
Despite the rig roads’ suture of the cracking
mesa, despite the forest chopped for skiers’
speed, or blood on the tracks of the town
where you grew up—the little town you see
in every town you pass, quaintly stupid
and out of gas—you know this place rings pure.
That sunlight is a solution and the volcano’s
for hire. That water always finds a way.