On the First Anniversary
of the Death of Our Love
Two years ago from this mountaintop
we could see what an Indian saw
standing lean and wide
in his hides and feathers,
within the circling hawks, on watch
for what came gliding downstream.
Now the whole town drifts south
along the river banks.
At the farthest reach of sight
we see, like a child’s toys,
a green and yellow 7-11,
a bright red Pizza Hut,
a bridge construction site
with cranes and bulldozers,
a new power plant, the beginnings
of industrial park,
slithering down the river
like a white man,
like a fleet of paleface missionaries
in black robes and silver crosses,
like a disease.
Like a modern man and woman,
city refugees still waking up
to weather reports,
showering without song,
trudging off to work,
sloshing down pots of coffee
with cremora and sugar-lo,
regular Einsteins at what
they do with computers,
getting their first taste of outdoors
at noon, in the parking lot
between the office and car door.
Ah. A breath of early spring reminds again
why they moved to the country.
A sleepy afternoon,
looking busy, but dreaming
a far deeper sleep than comes at night,
imagining oneself in bed
with Johnson there in the next cubicle.
Imagining Johnson imagining you.
Or dreaming very earnestly of one day
owning a little piece of mountaintop,
like the one I’m sitting on,
February 14, 1990,
a soft flow of wind in the trees,
an occasional gust,
the memory of you here beside me,
both of us bare to the waist,
in our secondhand jeans, with our sack lunch,
soaking in the sun as if it were Christ,
having nothing better to do than observe,
under last year’s brown dead grass,
two tiny green sprouts, separate and alone,
with leaves half the size of a raindrop.
©James L. Ralston