Poecology

Issue 2

 

 
 

James Engelhardt

 

In the Sky, In the Mountains

 
 
First fall colors in Alaska,
no plane trees, sweetgum, oak, maple,
our expected notes and tones of autumn.

On the hill heading up to Murphy Dome
shadows stutter across my face.
Dana clicks knitting, and Wendy
slides rubbery clothes on and off
her thumb-sized dolls.

A dip, a saddle between summits,
and the dome. Against the sky, a rock circle,
a fire pit, an air force globe to the east.

We could be giants, our bones standing on bones
down to the valley floor where autumn
is a week behind. But instead we stagger
over ground rutted by ATVs, littered
with shotgun shells and empty cans.

We climb onto a white, standing rock
so we can see the river,
the mountain ranges north, south, west.
For our first time, Denali clears her head,
a squat mud goddess on the horizon.

Late night and the clouds scatter off
giving us our first sighting of the aurora,
weak as it twists over city light.
Did we hold each other while we watched?
I can’t recall.