Our Lady of the Rockies
It was winter in Butte. Snow fell into the shadows of the mineshaft. Ice clung to the streets and froze the bloody tears of the virgin and kissed our lady’s blue lips against a mountainous backdrop. The lake held a reflection of descending geese on its still surface. The lake opened to receive their bodies. It parted its jaw, its pale mouth of copper oxide, to caress their down bellies as if softness meant a gesture like love. Their feet broke the surface, ripping open the liquid mirror, as if to destroy that second world where the birds fly upside down. The lung and the diaphragm knew the lake was poison, but there was nothing that could be done. There was nothing the virgin could do. Our lady, with her white shawl and blue scarf, turned her head and looked down into the city before her. Defiantly, she pried her feet from the marble stand. She wandered off into the forest. The lake, small yet seeming to contain an entire universe, held spines and wings, their small eyes and parted beaks. Stillness returned. Beyond the shore, beyond the ruins of rock and ore, our mountain stood quietly gathering snow. Our lady curled up and took off her shawl. Naked among the pines, she closed her eyes and never returned.