Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Mountain Beyond the Meadow

There is a mountain beyond a field of wildflowers
beyond the rail fence beyond the garden
of daisies, larkspur, evening primrose,
and others that have claimed squatter’s rights.

I can see the three-peaked snow-capped mountain—
I imagine the ridges to be a high priest
flanked by two altar servers in white surplices—
from my kitchen as I open the Chateau L’Evangile merlot

and gaze at this layered study in perspective.
It is as if I were looking into a frame
hanging in a hushed room with wooden floors
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And yet the scene changes
with the moving sun and seasons,
like Monet’s Haystacks or The Houses of Parliament.
When summer heat smothers the helpless plain,

the peaks dance like ballerinas
held hostage by a heat shimmer.
In the winter, these servants of the sky
are an exercise in lapidary,

etched like cut gems glistening
against a background that is painfully blue.
Spring and fall are transitional phrases,
by turns cutting and stripping my garden stalks

or swaying the field grasses with clean zephyrs
or hazy incense offered to whatever god is served
by these dimensions whispering “Closeness, distance,
closeness, distance, but bow also to the intermediary

that keeps them righteously apart.”
I sip the merlot and look at the garden,
fence, meadow, matin-covered mountain,
and realize that the world, organic and mineral,

is circadian, evolving, rhyming with color and shadow.
“Lord, it is good to be here,” St. Peter said
as light and darkness and voices danced around him.
It is good to be in my kitchen, grounded

by pots and pans and a vintage from the valley below
even though the universe is still expanding,
stars flying in all directions like priests and ballerinas
and fireflies carrying seeds to distant worlds.

I am content to raise a toast to humility
and be an infinitesimal part of this kaleidoscopic show.

~William Hammett

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