A View


You drive, the road aims for a mountain.
Down paving, toward the low basket of the sun,

a jackrabbit is dribbled by slaps of hot wind.
Hummocky, glazed, superficial, tanned

the landspread. I ride beside you, in the time
of life to note character, waiting for the sublime.

Enhancement of hills. Foisted up by their trite
avowals, we grow more close and hot.

Far ahead, something definite is about to occur.
The way goes flat, dusky. There they are,

the god, looming, and with him–but she is terrible!–
lying at his feet, his own foothill,

wrinkled, blue, balding, risen-above,
her back all sore from trails, child-ridden, shoved

to the ground in a dumpy heap, mined-out,
learned-on by the high one until that

moment he knew his own destiny, donned
a green-black cloak, rose up around

mid-life to stay with the stars, his face flint,
his eyes slatey and bland, and she went

into her change. Oh she was fanciful once,
garbed in dapples of yarrow, lupine and gentians,

silvery inside, always a-chatter
with rockchuck and nuthatch, point-breasted, and later

glad to be taken. Opened unmercifully,
she was used all over. Then, so accessible, she

was fair game for everyone. Even her shale
surfaces have bee wrung out for oil.

He stands nearby, unmoved. He knows
how not to be. Even at sundown he flourishes.

He can sway in aspen and tender seedgrass
in his low meadows, wearing the disgrace

of his early delicacy still, where blue grouse,
calliope hummingbird, rosy finch rise

and fall in paintbrush, harebell, penstemon,
beeplant, columbine. Nothing is gone.

He shows without shame these young, soft
traces, having gone on to lift

into view rock ribs and evergreen
masculinity. He transcends every mine,

they are small scars in his potency, something
unearthly shocked, shook him and kept him ascending.

He grew rough, scrabbly, wore outlaw underbrush,
gray fox, bobcat and cougar, secret fish.

Then he was stale for a while, all bare bone, then reared
a feast of self in a head uncovered,

streaked gray and white, playing cool, leaning
on no shoulder, above raining,

oblivious of his past, in pride of escape.
Never down-hearted, he is wholly grown up.

You turn and ask how I am. I say
I'm admiring the scenery, and am O.K.


Mona Van Duyn, Selected Poems, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.