THREE MOUNTAIN POEMS FROM UP NORTH by Rodney Williams

THREE MOUNTAIN POEMS FROM UP NORTH
by Rodney Williams (Australia)

from In this dusty rear-view mirror: 55 poems (Ginninderra Press, 2015)

i)
Disguises at Wawona

downstream
from that captain
of all monoliths
below a basalt ridge
of Yosemite conifers
I play otter where
Merced River rapids
froth at the lip
of a swimming hole
so clear it hides
giardia’s taint

gulping I dive
to a flooded beach
which harbors a fleet
of submarines
twelve to fifteen
mountain trout
all speckled as the sand
twice my depth
from alpine air
in no way tricked
by this pink-skinned bear

ii)
Departures from the Dinosaur Monument in Utah

For miles up here rock ranges in hue
from pink to purple to rust.

Across this plateau Split Mountain
sandstone-white yet magnetic as iron
forms a cleft peak that lets the Green River
rise like bile to spill from its throat.

More a quarry than a museum
a time capsule disinterred
the Dinosaur National Monument
shows a pharaoh’s tomb of fossils
tilting upwards from a swamp-bed
charnel-house of stone.

Apatosaurus bones lie petrified as ever
despite the absence of allosaurus
in a grave-robber’s treasure trove of claws and plates
thighs and feet spines and skulls.

Nearby park brochures have trampled
a prairie dog town right out of its ground.

Not so those petroglyphs etched into rock an eon ago –
a Fremont flautist with princesses three.

Rusted signs by the road back out
offer high desert at steep prices
five hundred per acre with no taker.

Into a new millennium that flute
still echoes off the butte.

While the prairie dogs have left town
and even the mountain has split
dinosaurs confound extinction.

iii)

Four day road
for Meg – after Joseph Boyden

our journey starts the same way it ends
crossing Canada on a four-day haul
making a united nations of friends
as elms turn gold at the start of fall

crossing Canada on a four-day haul
postcard conifers by snapshot lakes
as elms turn gold at the start of fall
an otter leaving a vee in its wake

postcard conifers by snapshot lakes
both seeing and reading through black spruce
an otter leaving a vee in its wake
a curl in the track towards the caboose

both seeing and reading through black spruce
endless beside us an eastbound freight
a curl in the track towards the caboose
that derailment of oil trucks making us late

endless beside us an eastbound freight
railhead silos on dead-flat prairies
that derailment of oil trucks making us late
Holstein cattle lined up at a dairy

railhead silos on dead-flat prairies
snowy peaks in mist through dome-car views
Holstein cattle lined up at a dairy
debate divided – elk or caribou?

snowy peaks in mist through dome-car views
a wild stream in jade beneath sheer rock
debate divided – elk or caribou?
logs chained into rafts by riverside docks

a wild stream in jade beneath sheer rock
tight hallways swaying with bunk-ladders hung
logs chained into rafts by riverside docks
sorry we’re late in a pair of tongues

tight hallways swaying with bunk-ladders hung
making a united nations of friends
sorry we’re late in a pair of tongues
our journey starts the same way it ends

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