Monday, November 30, 2015

High Uintas: A Love Poem

When you have passed by the green fields of Oakley
where the first crop of hay has been cut in long rows
and turned to dry, where brown horses nod and milking
barns hum, when you turn east through Kamas, past
the diners and the drive-ins and the High Star ranch,
pulling gradually up the canyon, now, Highway 150
becoming a lane through royal forest, a long drive
up to the lord’s manor house, flanked on either side
by lodgepole pines, where, at the tight s-curves below
Bald Mountain, a cow moose and her calf have the right-
of-way for their slow amble up the road and into a stand
of aspens, when you reach the trailhead at last
and cinch tight your backpack straps and then set off
among blue gentian, pink alpine laurel, towering
lousewort and calypso orchid, when you round the cliffs
atop Notch Peak, where the mountain goats stand
still as snow drifts, and you look down into the next
valley to see blue-grey lakes like a line of pearls,
and because the maps offer no names for these jewels,
you claim them for your grandchildren, writing
their names in along the contour lines to make it binding,
and when you sit near the shore of the most distant lake
and bite into a peanut butter and honey sandwich
that takes on mythical properties in the thin air above
10,000 feet, perhaps hypoxia is to blame, or maybe
the cold breeze running uphill from the East Fork
of the Bear River far below, for the few tears,
for the happy desire to leave your bones at the base
of this granite scree, to be nosed by pikas, scattered
by ravens, resurrected slowly, season by season.