by Theodora Goss
Has anyone ever told you
that the changing expressions on your face
are like the weather on a mountain?
Sometimes sunlit, but more often veiled in clouds,
always mysterious, like fog moving among pine trees,
hiding the valleys while rocky peaks, capped with snow,
rise shining above the variegated darkness
of forested slopes. Sometimes there are storms,
and lightning comes down like a judgment,
brilliant and startling. Sometimes soft rains fall,
and streams run through the mountain’s hollows and gullies,
spilling over its crags until the river
that winds through the valleys is overfull
of clear water, clean enough for a baptism.
At night, the moon bends over its ridge like a woman
watching her lover sleep. Her light
reaches down tenderly to caress granite and shale.
In the morning, dew covers the petals
of violets growing under the shadow of red oaks
from last year’s leaf mold.
In any weather, the mountain remains itself —
earthbound but perpetually reaching upward
as though it could find answers among the stars,
or the dawn that arrives each morning
to set its heights on fire.
(The image is The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak by Albert Bierstadt.)