On Virgin’s Red Mountains
“On Virgin’s Bed Mountain, / No tree lacks a perched phoenix.”
The trailheads are empty at dawn.
One of fantasy’s shortcomings
Is that it tends to third person—
We imagine what would sound good
For ourselves as someone other,
But a triumphant summary
Of fortune and accomplishment
Lacks the feel of, say, high country
Accomplishing nothing beyond
Gilded orange clouds at sunrise.
Then what is it this sunrise lacks
That the mind should keep tiptoeing
Off to imaginary scenes
That play out in a baffled head
As catalogues and announcements
And one-sided conversations?
Maybe it’s trying to keep warm,
An engine idling by itself.
There are no deer on the mesa.
Nothing is visibly moving.
Light rising from Wildcat Summit
Bursts the egg of morning’s phoenix.
When the sun warmed the indigo mesa,
Jade-purple clouds rose like smoke from the cliffs.
Before notation captured history,
Landscapes lit up with extravagant myths
Of ancient peaks impossible to cross
In which immortal spirit musicians
Played fifty, one-hundred, ten-thousand-stringed
Woods, intoning storm winds’ moaning visions.
Now, any spirit not gilded and caged
Has flown into space. It’s better this way.
Fancies dressed forests in comprehension
When woods had no reasons, nothing to say.
At noon, old snows reflect on meltwater ponds,
Entrancing and wavering, already gone.