Great Blue Hill
Did once waters run here,
carving dirt and stone
into steps, eating away soft earth
to expose the roots of things— tree’s
and granite’s bones—
the strength at the heart of the hills?
Can you believe the clear blue of the sky springing
overhead? Trees uncurling spears into soft newness
of leaves like limp lace handkerchiefs
green tinged with red and gold.
And in the hidden hollows stranger birds
whose names we cannot guess calling us
to follow wing-flutter into the dark needle drifts
and branch bowers. We weave around and through
crossing and recrossing the stone road and the needle paths
while the trees drop faint shadows at our feet like offerings.
The world is waking and we are drawn by the same
force that calls the birds and the trees to nest making
and leaf unfurling, we to hiking and the heights. Somehow
no lesser goal will do— higher, higher, despite
knees and hips protest and hearts racing and breath
breaking briefly into panting gasps until we simply must
sit down and rest— but not for long.
We climb again and again until we reach
the place that, here and now, is the earth’s
top, towered summit— until we can climb no further.
And see, stretched out for our approval,
the sea of trees and lesser hills in goldy-green
and rust-pink and brown dotted
with water’s gleam and glass and a few rooftops
and, finally in a blue gray blue haze, Boston’s
fairyland of building blocks dropped on the horizon.
How can tired, sweaty bodies, feet irked by bits of grit
share space with the glory of gossamer bubbles
amoeba-dancing in the world-wind
blown from tower tops by a hoarse-voiced wizard
while children hunt like fierce protozoans until they pop
into strange silky rags? Can words paint my daughter’s surprised face
staring at me through the bubble’s unreal portal?
Then when the bubbleman has departed, leaving his calling card,
the children scatter to knighthood and errantry once more
freed from the faerie-glamour
and battling for the bridge
with invisible swords raised and rough
branch bows drawn from the same iridescent fancy as the bubbles.
Impervious to adults’ inquisitive eyes they dart and sneak
and yell their war cries.
Weary we start down the wrong side of the hill
following the raccoon’s trail to a vernal pool
then toil back again to regain our proper path
down down we drop back to the mundane—
if ever this bird-haunted foot of the hill
could be called ordinary life.
Where wondering eyes catalogue: goldfinch oriole chickadee
hummingbird chipping sparrow
grackle nuthatch and tufted titmouse
snowy owl vulture red tailed hawks and
cud-chewing deer and sleeping foxes.