Issue Thirty - Summer 2017

Up Near Alta Peak, January 20, 2017

By John Brantingham

It’s still mosquito summer in the High Sierra
when we push up above 10,000 feet,
only Annie and me and a dryad
we come across tied forever to her foxtail pine.

She’s been sitting up here
with her back to this boulder,
looking out across the high altitude trees
and scree and turkey vultures circling unsteadily
5,000 feet below her for a thousand years now,
maybe a little more.

She smiles at us, nods as we drop our packs.
“I wonder,” she says, “if it’s beautiful like this
on Jupiter, all of those storms swirling around,
the clouds blowing red or tan.”

She stretches, listens for a moment
to a pika squeaking his call
to see if any of his friends are around.

“I wonder what it’s like on Mars
on top of Olympus Mons
looking down on red plains below.
Imagine the meditation possible with that silence.
I wonder what it is to be out in deep space,
far enough that even starlight isn’t visible,
out where politics and science never connect.”

She pauses a moment to watch a bug crawl
across the back of her hand.
“Out where there are no people.
Out where there isn’t even any thought.”

Copyright Brantingham 2017