Hey! Who put my mountain there?
I’m surrounded by remarkable minds. In this case, this charming line from my daughter will one day appear inside a poem. But for now, it is enough to have right here, reminding me of where I am. On a good day, we can see the windmill and the weather vane, the rope leading us to the barn. But then there are the other days, the ones we fill with pain.
One of my cousins is waiting for the cancer truck to come to a prairie town. She’ll climb inside, succumb to some final tests to discover exactly where cancer has spread inside her. Right now, if she feels a pain in her head, she thinks: Oh no, it’s spread to my brain. I have brain cancer as well; Oh no, I have a pain in my ass. Now I have ass cancer.
I’m not trying to steal her humor, rather I want to share her fear and pain. Unexplainable pain is worse.
I asked a friend how she dealt with the loneliness that crept inside her shoes once her children grew up and left home. Let pain become familiar, it’s easier that way.
And what about another friend who now regrets leaving the high country and a certain mountain man? When she went back to find him, she found his mountain gone. I ask her about pain. She puts her paint brush down: Singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ makes you wish too much–that’s what pain is.
And Then the Mountain is Gone
She makes it as far as watching the mountain
man build door hinges from hand-hewn strips
of wood and then
she can’t watch anymore. Who knew
a PBS film crew would one day find him
curling wood, explaining the loss of white bark pine,
the compromise of grizzly food? She was meant to live
there, after all. At one time he could hear the rain
on her brim; if she was watershed,
he was loyal catchment. But
this woman he grew to love grew quiet, missing
in part, the sound of her own paint
brush, the pulse in a dial tone.