Mountains ~ Robin Chapman


Boom of the avalanche cannons

as warm winds layer the snow

with ice, loosening the pack

here on the steep mountainsides

where snowboarders flow

over the moguls

and down the slopes—

in their packs small GPS chips

signaling their location,

whether it’s the Sunshine slopes,

Rundell Coffee Shop,

or an engulfing tide of snow.

We are one resonating, relayed

web, reaching out to each other

around the globe,

bearing the voices of our dead

and the Voyageur exiting

our solar system

and the news of the newborn

arrivals, the tracks we briefly

make in the woods.

Thousands of years this place

I call wilderness

has been walked or ridden,

hunted and fished,

has housed and fed families

moving slowly by foot,

the net of memory’s stories

gather, growing, knotted,

held: where the hot springs are,

the deer, how to read

the layers of snow,

the scat of bear and cougar.

And how do we know?

Our readers of the soil

slumped from the Bow river

sort out flint chips,

charcoal pits, incised bones,

compute ratios of isotopes,

conjure the whole, what legend

has already told and known.

These tall lodgepoles

outside my window

spoke to me twenty winters ago,

sap and bark weeping

at forty below

with the work of growth

and letting go.