Viewing wilderness

This is how we are asked to view wilderness:
standing on a precisely constructed platform,
cut and cornered and riveted to the edge
of Mount Killecrankie’s rocky backbone.
We are chest high behind bars but free to point,
to look out past the little creeper on his tree,
to low cloud as it hangs off the prow
where a giant bandicoot rustles up wind,
digs up a gale and throws it to the supple wild below,
where light and history collect in equal parts.

(I remember these lookouts from childhood,
but lacking fences and railings, we bumped
along twisted roads in the station wagon,
four of us kids in the back playing corners
throwing ourselves left then right with each bend,
the squashed child against the car door winded
with the delight of everyone pressed against them.
And then the sandstone lookout, a rock platform,
a word about not standing near the edge.
Are there still these places where you can wriggle
forward on your belly and hang your head
until the perspective becomes nauseating?)

Finally the late afternoon sun dips beneath
the dreaming cloud and remembers me;
the last thing it does before going to bed.
So we sleep the night on the riveting platform;
wake once to moonlit spur lines and lapping mist
which floods the dark valley below.
In the morning, the bars are still there.

 

poet's biography —>