Mt. Baker


My life began here, well there,

on that sylvan floor below where my youth stretched out

in infinite languor, bathed in lingering half-light . . .
I stood here for the first time fifty years ago

and gazed downward, outward to the

layered folds of that Adirondack autumn,

anxiously hearing dreams call out from the peaks and the lakes and the rivers,

watching them open their arms to me, a  transplanted Massachusetts girl,

perched on a rockface fortress steep and mighty.
I see that waning October day so clearly, a day like today,

shimmering in the amber angles of a soon sinking sun.

I hear my uncle’s voice echo from a distant past, “Walk quickly, children.

“The sun’ll be gone soon.  We could be lost.”

He was, after all, from New York City and a bit melodramatic about the woods.

There was plenty light left for us to find our way.
The New Year and my 10th birthday

had slipped together into the widening autumn darkness.

I was poised for womanhood, the new new year’s new fruit,

a wonder, I, and wondrous. thankful that the leaves rotting beneath my feet

were dry, and  that my birthday sneakers were unsmudged.

I felt them yearn with me to move on,

to descend the slopes into the future  that beckoned in glistening

splendor, suspended in the clean crisp air.

Instead, I thrust my head toward the clouds and shouted

“I’m here, world.  Look at me.  I made it to the top.”
Well, I’m back again, and there it is,

The same sparkling valley,

Where dreams still breathe in the anxious

afternoon of yet another Adirondack Autumn.

I leap downward, into the woods; no need now to stop and crow.

I descend willingly.

I’ve only minutes left,

But in a minute there’s still time

And plenty of light.

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