Monday, June 25, 2012

The Morning Reading: " what we first wanted had something to do with stones"

Sierra Nevada
~Anne Stevenson

(for Margaret Elvin, 1963)

Landscape without regrets whose weakest junipers
strangle and split granite,
whose hard, clean light is utterly without restraint,
whose mountains can purify and dazzle
and every minute excite us, but never can offer us
commiseration, never can tell us
anything about ourselves except that we are dispensable...

The rocks and water. The glimmering rocks, the hundreds
and hundreds of blue lakes
ought to be mythical, while the great trees, soon as they die,
immediately become ghosts,
stalk upright among the living with awful composure.
But even these bones that light
has taken and twisted, with their weird gesticulations
and shadows that look as if
they'd been carved out of dust, even these
have nothing to do with what we have done or not done.

Now, as we climb on the high bare slopes,
the most difficult earth
supports the most delicate flowers: gilia and harebells,
kalmia and larkspur, everywhere
wild lupin's tight blue spires and fine-fingered
handshaped leaves.
Daintiest of all, the low mariposa, lily of the mountain,
with its honey stained cup and no imperfect dimension.

If we stand in the fierce but perfectly transparent wind
we can look down over the boulders,
over the drifted scree with its tattered collar of manzanita,
over the groves of hemlock,
the tip of each tree resembling an arm
extended to a drooping forefinger,
down, down, over the whole, dry, difficult
train of the ascent, down to the lake
with its narrow, swarming edges where little white boats
are moving their oars like waterbugs.

Nothing but the wind makes noise.
The lake, transparent to its greeny brown floor,
is everywhere else bluer than the sky.
The boats hardly seem to touch its surface. Just as
this granite cannot really touch us,
although we stand here and name the colours of its flowers.

The wind is strong without knowing that it is wind.
The twisted tree that is not wanting
or supplicating, never considers that it is not wind.
We think
if we were to stay here for a long time, lie here
like wood on these waterless beaches,
we would forget our names,would remember that
what we first wanted
had something to do with stones, the sun,
the thousand colours of water, brilliances, blues.


(photo by Brett Hall Jones)



Lou said...

Excellent pair of polliwogs!

Anonymous said...

I love the last lines of this poem, and the 'transparent wind'.

the other L

Site Meter