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In the Shadow of the White Clouds

Matthew Merson

There is a mountain asleep in Idaho.

Its name known only to wild beasts.

Twice a day ponderosa shadows lengthen

like a carpenter’s ruler to inspect what is.

Its veins are clotted with trout, so fathers and sons

follow fault lines to heaven with fly rods in hand.

This town at its feet has a story etched in

hillsides clothed in clouds and avalanches.

Elk browse the burn scar that soaked the sun red.

Our windows forced shut for a week in August.

Suffocating behind glass we watched the blaze

dance on every bluff.  We made love in its shadows.

Raptors and our livelihood perch on every precipice.

All of its stones remember a millennium of rain.

Soaking the soil below for summer wheat

harvested in cool mornings.  Dew still sticky.

In its shadow, boys lie and play baseball.

Old men watch and judge.  Girls in white sage

dance in perfect rhythm to the drum beat

of their mothers.  We are not the first to drink

this mountains offering - filtered through

broken basalt and gravel.  We will be buried

next to the others, and the mountain

will swallow us all whole.



Matthew Merson is a high school science teacher in the low country of South Carolina. His other work can be found at Apocalypse Confidential.

Photo Credit: Emilee Luke, "Mountain Top Flare"

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