The Yogurt is Curdling

Quieter thought gone louder now as arms pump
	 full with something that stings
Sits like lactic acid in my wrists isn’t it supposed 
	to fade isn’t it supposed to drain?
It’s not often that these mountains fuzz in the sun; 
	thin air makes a pure picture. 
But even crisp heights make ocean sunsets— to 
	remind us that one mile or two
Are smallest slices of one world’s onioned globe.
	 I climbed these rocks to look 
Down toward river, up to mountain, never quite 
	high enough to own it all and I know
Behind this hill he watches with me. Watches me 
	leave on important business, 
Imagines the little gray car swerving back over the
	 river, back through town, 
Up to the house he can’t have up there on that 
	mountain. I hid my car
Behind the rock face one driveway up. He’s given 
	me butter to use when he’s gone.
It’s melting in the sun. And I’m up above on this 
	speckled evening listening 
To the river he can hear too. Or can’t hear anymore
	 but should. When I came
To take his things his eyes were red. Told me the
	 house was dusty. It was. 
I near saw them turn purple in the driveway, but 
	waved and turned down the dirt.

I used to watch the mountains hard, write long 
	sentences of exact description, 
Thinking how elegant, how romantic I was as I wrote: 
	Birds, Flowers, God. I knew
It was all good. I emptied my head until I thought 
	Something echoed from behind
Or above. Now I watch a man pull himself up boulders, 
	boost his black dogs, one little,
One larger, to sit on another rock tower. He empties 
	his shoes and watches this soft 
fading. The dogs gleam against that rock, lazily 
	explore in circles their outcropping,
Their rock so redyellow against that bluegray mountain.
	 My rock beneath just dappled
In green lichen. We are not the same. We are not one 
	in this passing shadow. I could 
Watch my own strong child legs scrambling and I cannot 
	say I’d know them. I’m on
This side of the rock; I did not climb to the top. The man 
	serpentines down, careful
Enough to show his age. He knows his route. He’s 
	well-versed with the little dog now
Under his arm, bracing against a reaching step. The 
	shadow’s taken his rock, 
and he’s had enough. Purple mountain and purple rock
	 and purple eyes blend.
I see the man descend. 

In even light, you can see the streaks on this face. The 
	tower is crumpled, is fractured.
It wrinkles like an ass does, or a cheek. I would stretch it
	 out to smooth it, but it is
Too dry now. It would bleed. It is not one clean slab. I 
	cannot tell if its compression
Has come from the front or the top. Perhaps from the 
	inside. I see that it’s been
pinched. In even light, I’m no longer shadowed beneath
	 this sparse tree. Below, I see 
The two dogs leashed, and here’s a little family on the path. 
	I hear their steps; the
Little one—five, maybe seven—has a decibel that reaches
	 my perch. It carries, shoots
with her turquoise shirt, that demanding lilt that spins. She
	 and it sink into the gulley. 
I hope she climbs and doesn’t see me crouching. I swear 
	there’s a murmur of 
Her father. I want to shout across this space. It will change.
	 Like mountains, like rock,
Like dogs leashed, walked— You will find yourself on your
	 own outcrop. You will glow 
Pink, red, as everything fades blue and you will be seen 
	across the rock. And you will
Have to learn to climb down, because the butter is melting 
	and the yogurt is curdling and 
The romaine is wilting even though you’ve thanked your 
	father for it even though you
Said you’d take care of it even though he

So high! 
	—Hold onto my hand— 

If I were a child, I’d think you were God’s echo— 
	so damn trite. 
I’d think you were a message placed in a quieted mind.
	But my mind isn’t quiet, 
And I can’t say I was listening. Not for your parents in brown 
	or red— for you in that turquoise, spinning.
Turquoise that doesn’t bother with shadows. I see you so 
	clear up there. I see you
I see you climb over the side. And here am I alone watching the 
	mountains with my father
On two sides of a rock. The romaine is wilting. It’s all fading. 
	Dogs gone, man gone,
You gone. The yogurt is curdling. I must climb down. 
	I can’t remember how.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s