Wednesday, September 1, 2021

White Mountain Deep or Stars Threw Down, AE Reiff


It might be the sky but it might be the wind, 
leaving the tent at night in the cold and then not for long. 
You don't get up to hear the coyotes
howling in the range of cross riffs 
and minor notes of the stars.
Interminable I wade through night chest deep.
Turn, restless, turn again. Left side, right side,
back, hope to get escape with dreams, 
wake minutes later, there is no watch, 
but if you can get beneath, like the covers, 
of sleeping bag, the red Hudson's Bay,
the shirts over feet frozen at the bottom of the tent,
then the wind can dance its pile drives
and strokes of mountains leeward can be the dream.

The wind shakes the tent, shakes the aspen up high, descends. 
I wait to be lifted off the ground,
figure to figure out something in the event, 
but then it blows off, new meaning to zephyr 
Blow wind, crack the wind of Pentecost
shake the house. It shakes the mountain now. 
The elk feel it, don't cry, or can't be heard. 
The wind extinguishes everything but itself. 
I know the power of fire and flood, but air is not benign,
blows the elk, coyotes and bear to shelter, 
It doesn't blow the stars.

Under the tree I play them back on the closed eye screen
bright now, Orion rises late in fall. 
I count on it to bring the dawn, 
figure it is maybe three AM,
which gives hope with an air mattress 
and a foot warming wife who accepts them into her thighs.

What does the foot that gets to Nirvana say to the one behind?
"Just one more step."
What does the foot in Nirvana say to the one behind?
"There's no pain hereafter."
What does the cold foot say to the hot?
"Remember me." 
 What does the hand say to the foot 
when the cold foot hotfoots it into warmth?
This goes on through the middle of the night.
Red Antares stares at the mountain. 
The meadow to be alive in gold is dark.
All is light. All is bright.
The shadows of dawn, the chow's ears,
the smoke of the fire, coyote song,
elk breaking notes over their knees 
for the fire of dry aspen. 
Even the lonely men in their pickups, 
who patrol the back forest 
where we have gone to escape 
the pipe lines blasting, sleep. 
They can't see an elk in the wood that our boys track,
manage not to get gored by the climacteric of want.
The want. The eye patch. The meaning of cold. 
The trunklessness fallen from fires a decade ago.

AE Reiff is a singer and storyteller who lives in the upper Sonoran Desert. His ceramic murals depict these currents of the wild. He is a native of Philadelphia with two recent collections, The True Light That Lights (Parousia Christian Poetry Chapbook, 2020), and Recon (Trainwreck Press, 2021).

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