I Wake at Four & Drive to the Mountains
To leave the inner critic on the empty street beneath my windows.
To outride the arrows, or slings at least, of civic life.
To put the forces separating me from my daughter—the moderator
in elastic-waisted slacks, the decree signed
by the liver-spotted judge—in the rear-view.
To look ahead and see the world’s impersonal love song again
lifted from night.
To know the song is about the attention we give the wild,
unfixable everything we love yet is always already
indifferent to us.
And yet to see the sun rise, like a couched friend, from blankets of fog
in the lowland orchards.
To see the fields of our anxieties cut and gathered in silos.
To hear the wind wrap us, undeserving, in the sun’s resolve
to sustain us another day.
To stuff a campsite into my backpack and somehow walk ten miles.
To feel the weight of our basic needs shouldered across streams,
over hills, up crevices.
To remember having walked the home-forsaken trail before.
To realize I’d compressed memory of all this pain—all but the sacrament
of red, gold and orange leaves
above river bluffs.
Only here do I realize I must have forgotten just how many uphills,
just how fucking much elevation hurts.
Here I think such thoughts as our sapiens ancestors ground as many miles
over mountains each day.
I wake and drive and walk to think: Perhaps the downhill mortar and pestle
of our patellae almost crushes recall
of profane elevation.
And to meet the inner critic, somehow already at the top, and
to accept his message:
You wake at four and drive to the mountains
to accept the body’s pain as the cost of all the beauty there is to see.