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.