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Archive for October, 2014

I’ve come to believe that
life isn’t measuredIMG_1572
by the many
events
accomplishments,
or even,
as the yogis
claim –
breathes we take,
but more by
stillness
in nature,
like this moment
in the late afternoon
when all the loud
clatter
and silly
endless chatter
comes to a complete
and delightful
silent halt:
I hear only the wind
as it rustles
through long fall grasses
and nothing more.

I watch the shadows
descend over the valley
like so many
afternoons
in my mountain perch:
here in the distance
I feel each blade
bend and salute
the dry earth,
feel it in deepest
solitude.
Like the coyotes
who watch me
hidden in the sage,
I too
contemplate.
Writers
love and hate
the dance between
word and page;
it makes us shun
those closest to us,
makes us turn our backs
on the tidiness of life,
we need
a
lone
ness
for there we find
logic
meaning
desire
beauty.
We are voyeurs
in our silent space
and only there
can we churn
our hearts
to find the gift:
the fruit of so much
senseless banter
hammered
chiseled
forged
luminous
bright
against the darkening
oncoming
night.

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In the heart of the mountains
time loses its grip,
and even days
go by un named….
There is only the schedule
of the rising and falling sun,
or the morning walk:
dog a few paces ahead,IMG_1686
scenting the cool breezes
for reminders of evening visitors,
tail high,
nose scenting
his nuzzle bobbing
up and down
like a plover’s tail,
trying to get
a better read:
but the scat
always proves
the pudding,
pebbled and scattered
along the gravel
sometimes so
fresh,
we know we have just
missed the antelope….
Here, days are laid out
by mother nature,
she decides the pattern:
rain makes for long naps,
chess
soup making
or best of all
sheer delight
in reading
real books
that weigh in your hands
like treasure
far removed
from their electronic
brethren,
sliding sweetly
unto laps as eyes close
from so much mountain light
and fresh air.
Sun makes for hiking,
fishing
canoeing
long days of open air
mayhem,
daring not to waste
the gift of long days
that turn into
star studded nights
by campfires.IMG_1687

But best of all
are the brisk days
of autumn,
with the sun hiding
behind endlessly moving
clouds
and the breeze just
strong enough to make
the high grasses hum
and sing
so that you
can’t help
but fall on your back
and listen
watching the sky
change
from light
to bright
and back to dim again,
like you are the one
caught in some
giant moving picture –
a dot
on the planet
where no oneFullSizeRender_3
is aware of your very existence.
Those are my favorite days,
when I can fade
with the movement
of the clouds
into nothingness
free
of all that binds
me and soar
as keenly
as the red tail hawk
to some long forgotten
place:
where my dreams
seem as clear
as the
fresh scent of sage.

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People often describe me as “grounded.”
Funny how that works:IMG_0624
but maybe hearing
it often enough
makes it so.
I take it as a blessing,
if I am as I see
these mountains
in the distance:
firm,
anchored
to the rolling hills
at their feet,
reaching
toward the heavens
with peaks dusted
in early winter snow.

They are a constant
as the seasons
adorn them:
each in its own
magical way,
changing from golden
dry and dusty,
their wrinkled crags
bright in the summer light,
to sensual and richly
verdant in the spring,
or brightly colored
in auburn reds
in the fall,
and then shrouded
in angelic white
all the long winter.

Cut from years of turmoil,
and seas gone dry,
glaciers sculpting them
and earthquakes
splitting them,
these glorious mounds
of earth,
the Spaniards
aptly christened “tetons.”
are nurturing
to all who behold them,
climb them,
walk around them
chanting mantra
or find their final
peace within them.
They stand
firm
as clouds
cast the evening shadows
the last
of the geese
flying overhead
honking
their loud goodbye.
But barren as the
winter clamors
to make them,
they still hide
secrets
of hibernating
bears,
or hungry wolves
and foraging deer.

They are constant
in the morning light
when men weary
from the hard
ranch life
stare to find solace
in their elegance:
so even as they
shovel one last load
of hard dirt
or hammer a fence post,
they look up
and know
again why it is
they love this land,
this wide landscape
that finds delight
in crashing against
the edge of life
at the foot
of a massive and glorious
range.
I’ve seen those men,
border collie
at their side,
brush the dust off
their pant leg,
and look up
like an amorous boy
with
that long
open
wide eyed glance
a lover
cannot hide:
seen them
light a cigarette
and stop
to stare
once too often,
at the very demons
they hate to love.

Montana aptly
named,
it is here I too
find my solace
in your deep valleys
that reach toward
the Gravely range.
I too have come
like so many
to find meaning
in your land,
in its ever-changing nature,
season after season.
In your heart there
are secrets
only the mountains know,
and over the years
I have heard them echoed
in the shadow time
of dusk,
when the clouds
of your never-ending sky
color the mountains
in a language
few understand,
and yet, I hear.
You have taught me
to lay my fearsIMG_1255
at the foot of the mountains,
where over time
the rushing waters
of spring melt,
will churn them
into creeks
that feed the
fast flowing Madison River:
where they beat
against boulders
and swirl in gravel,
sinking into log jams
crushed
by the rushing currents,
lost
forever
in the rhythm of pounding
churning
healing
water.

Tonight,
I stare
once again
in the shadow time,
and as the last
of the golden light
falls
on the highest peak,
I am love struck.

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In the mountains
storms hardly ever
announce themselves,
not like at sea:
where the wind begins to shift
and the waves
usher in the heaving
waters
sky darkening
lightning
creeping
steadily toward
the boat’s bough –
salt spray
christening sails
as thunder
bellows
rocking
the night
into
complete chaos,
then
moving steadily toward
the next shore –
squall after squall
on into even
darker seas…..

Here,
time is of no consequence:
the brightest day
of mountain sun
can darken
in a moment:
pitch black
clouds swarm
over the valley
and water
pours hard
over rocky crags
forming little rivers
of sheer clear light
marmots
lust over
hiding in their
rock caves
waiting for the taste
so long in coming.
Antelope gather
bounding
toward aspen groves
to lap
the wetness from
their hides,
happy for relief
from summer parasites,
tongues
rough as sandpaper,
eyes
closing in delight.
Somewhere in the
valley,
the coyotes sing
yipping
as the rain
turns to hail
an unwelcome visitor
hammering the tin roofs
of homesteads long abandoned.

We stand
halfway between
the river and home
drenched
watching
laughing
in the strong scent
of wet sage
the water running
down the bench
toward the river
clouds scampering
in rhythm with the rabbits,
sage sparrows
sweetly
heralding
the warm
wet air
and kiss
to taste
sweet
salt:
mountain
meeting
sea.

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The wind sweeps down the mountain

crisscrossing the high grass

like a child’s game,

one moment left,

then right,

suddenly in large circles.

The golden fall grass is as high

as the sage,

but light and playful,

while the sage stands rooted:

flowing water to rocks.

This time of year,

the bluebirds have gone,

and even the sage sparrow

is rarely seen,

but the harrier hawk still makes

a casual sweep over the waves

of gold – searching for the slow

to burrow gopher.

Little is left of the loud

active summer days:

now is a time of stillness:

cooling days and dimming light

before the snow silences these

hills and valleys.

Gone are the rufous hummingbirds,

in this altitude

as large as sparrows –

their whirling wings

and ruby throats

fighting the wind,

like tiny warriors.

Even the sand hill cranes

have slung their sleek

long bodies way past the valley.

I heard a crow the other day –

it was calling in its

loud throaty way

high above me

bemused to be the reigning bird.

But the late autumn

brings the hefty footed migration

of elk

stomping through the ravine

and leaving their scent

strong enough to drive

the dog insane.

And there’s the antelope

foraging all day in the high grasses

their flat white rumps

like flags waving 

in the light of dusk.

This is the time of clearing

 preparing

moving

planning:

all the creatures are busy

so busy

that only the wind

is a constant –

clearing, shifting

and changing

everything in its path.

And so the cycle

begins again:

the gold soon to be white

the light soon to be dark

the long turns short

and all will come full circle

in a year’s time.

I too have come

to clear my path

like so many times before,

to lighten my load,

and walk these mountains

drinking in the

thin mountain air:

my lungs remembering

their ancestral Andean roots,

my legs crisscrossing the landscape

like the wind,

only to close my eyes

at the brightness of the

setting sun,

and feel its flaming color

pierce

the flesh of this tired heart:

full circle

to lay my self imposed

load

at the foot of the river

and watch carefully

as the water

clears anything in its path

just like the wind

one day at a time

stopping for no one

or no thing

and yet

in the small pockets

of clear river sand

I can still see

summer leaves

their green flesh

almost sheer

glistening

in the dimming fall light.

IMG_1586 IMG_1572

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Random Thoughts in Montana

It has been many months since I visited this blog.  Reading my last entry, I see that I made allusion to my beginning to contribute poems more regularly.  It has been more than a year since my mentor and father died, and I have not really been writing.  Every writer has periods of silence, some times very long ones, but this has been one of my longest.  My father was such an inspiration and mentor to me, that I still feel as though my poetic wings have been clipped.  Some times I can hear his relentless prodding words, “You have to write – send me a poem..”

in the night, and I even manage to lay awake composing – but by morning it’s all a blur.  They say that grief takes time, and I know this all very well – but this time it’s different – because every time I approach words – the very essence of what makes poetry, I feel that deep silence that he and I shared those last few months of his life, and in breaking that silence a torrent of emotions floods my every cell.  I have very few regrets, and I want to keep it that way so that if I die today, I will be at peace.  Losing those I loved deeply has taught me that all we can carry with us is the gift of love we give to others – there is no taking of anything – not any of the many attachments – even the attachment (the hardest one) to those you LOVE.  Over the last few months, I have read a great deal about attachments and how to spiritually cope with them – but I have to say that the very words I would whisper in my father’s ear -“let go, dad, it’s ok – don’t be afraid, we love you – but let go,” are the ones that now plague me – I have yet to let go of the sweet knot that held us to each other and to our art.  The very act of writing a poem involves pain – and dredging up those rich emotions so that others can share along – so here is where the rub is: when I put pen to paper ( funny since most of us don’t really do that anymore) I immediately fall prey to the silence between my sweet father and I – oh yes, I know it’s a way of communicating with him – but strangely enough sometimes the silence is purer – more direct – because it is in that silence that I feel closest – he can’t write anymore, so therefore why should I?  Ridiculous and whiny – yes, I agree – but the heart can sometimes over ride the mind…even with the purest intent.  So I have come full circle to what I wish to really say : here in this sacred space of the mountains where my soul reaches deepest into its Andean roots I have come once again to heal.  Twenty three years ago, I came here to heal from my husband’s death and now once again I find myself staring at the mountains.  It is in these mountains and this winding Madison river that I hear the voice of the two men I have so dearly loved the clearest.  Know that I am listening, and with the patience of the rising moon – slowly crowning over the Gravely range – I will keep my promise.  Now I must write for two.  Te quiero siempre, papi lindo.

IMG_2050

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