Mt. St. Something
We stood in the woods
of the Catskills
listening to the All Around Us.
The whine of overhead commercial flights had been replaced by
the tenor of early autumn insects.
The city was a thousand thoughts away.
We bathed in bird calls both familiar and unfamiliar.
We wondered how many things
were alive within a twenty-foot radius,
gathering in the underbrush,
burrowing under dogwood roots,
tunneling into soft birch bark.
As a cloud passed overhead,
our two-way radio spat out
elliptical weather announcements,
channeled from some distant tower courtesy of NOAA:
Friday, light wind, mostly cloudy.
Saturday, sunny, high visibility with no
inclement weather reported.
We listened in case of a flood,
some kind of warning from NOAA’s ark.
But having been spared, the questions weighed heavier:
in the event of a disaster,
how much life would’ve been taken
in a twenty-foot radius,
and what could be gained by knowing;
could it be stacked like firewood,
and how many tarps would it take to keep it all dry?
We woke up to a singular birdsong,
a one-way broadcast
on a two-way radio,
italicized by the morning cold,
a warning as old
as the emergency of flight.
In the afternoon, we got lost on White Tail Deer Trail.
There we stumbled across old
trespassing notices stapled to pine trees.
We followed a dried up river to a clearing
where the canopy fractured sunlight into 10,000
spurs on the forest floor.
By the time we arrived at camp,
we were disorienteered and starving.
We ate while September light
swaddled the mountains.
When dusk fell, we were lost again in a new way:
in the dying light we saw
the valley, the expanse,
the mountains, the exhale,
all of it painted the purple of dusk.
Mountains always sleep on the ground,
rivers always sleep in beds;
some people are mountains,
some are rivers.
It’s not about keeping score
or proving a negative,
it’s about what you hold
and how close you hold it.
In the morning, we woke without bribery,
with no cloud cover to speak of,
just the naked sky
born new each morning.