Sarah Wolfson, "The Mountain"

We went up the mountain

to see about love. We went

up the mountain to ask

about bears, to play at

Moses. We went to see

remnants, to laugh,

at the summit, at the circled

moon. In the water below,

moon-jellies launch

their throbbing repose.

The valley is covered

in myrtle; the valley

is moldy. From the summit,

tiny laundry flaps its

unheard conversations.

Below, a boulder

tended by gentle junipers

may have been abandoned by

the gods. From here

it’s possible to see a time

when even the world’s largest

rock ceases. The summit

is covered in lichen. But

what do we know about

how much lichen forms

a covering? We know

about hunger. When we

sit for an apple, fossils

nip our calves. In the past

people went up the mountain

holding tight to flags. From

the summit we construe

the spray of mammals

in the sea. From the summit

the lives of farm hands

look like bliss. We

went up the mountain

to release the dead and

our ghosts which are not

the same. We’ve lost the trail

on purpose to find

the bog which suggests

another life: not an afterlife,

but the prospect

of a moist, colloidal,

parallel existence. After

the bog the mountain

goes to bramble,

which raises lines

on our still uncertain

legs. What good are we

with our three names

for birds and our zero

language for their songs?

We’re up the mountain

to tend something

electric. We carry a hunch

our future may be wrapped

in the whisper of a bear.

We lose the mountain

to find the bramble.

Never mind the blooming

welts on your limbs

and the pulsing

between us. Let it

hang here; let it pause

to drink the pollinated air.

This is the mountain. It may yet

survive the valley. Never mind

the bear beyond me. Forget

the ungodly blackberries

hanging so heavily

they soil themselves

on the earth; forget

the variegated welts

their brambles have embossed

on my wrists. Look here:

at the buttons covering

my ribs, which have,

in our wanderings,

come partway open.

Sarah Wolfson’s poems appear in Canadian and American journals including PRISM international, AGNI, Radar Poetry, Gulf Coast, and Mid-American Review. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan. Originally from Vermont, she now lives in Montreal, where she teaches writing at McGill University.

Main Image Photo: Pixabay.