College drop off: a poem


We detour to Rocky Mt. National Park. The short, popular hike, all we have time for.

“We have to act as if the future matters,” says one hiker.

Alpine Parsley. Drabwort. Saxifrage.

Everyone knows going down is harder than going up.

“If you can make it all the way down without whining, I’ll get you some chocolate.”

Clouds with structure and authority seem a necessary grandeur, given how rocky peaks shove their ancient mass into the sky.

“The whole top of that mountain slid off,” someone points. Tons of rock crumbled into scree, as if gravity wanted to make a show, too.

Alpine Indian Paintbrush.

Panting, plodding, the wind tugging my scarf but not quite filling my lungs.  “We’re from Texas, so we’re really feelin’ it too!”

5,000 feet and climbing.

Clustered low to the ground, humble and remarkable: Moss Campion, Dwarf Clover.

Heading back to campus, we stop with others at a popular pull out. Morris dancers circle and clap, ankle bells jingling.

The gusty air. The regal clouds. Grinning faces posing. A six percent grade to the road.

A man tries to mount his giant motorcycle but it tips over and pins him to the ground. He gets up.

To hear him bark blame at the accordion player is to wish that stone or distant thunder or lichen, all things of relentless, effortless grace, could counter our flaws.

“Who’s ever heard of weather moving west?!” asks my son.

Rocky Mountain Sagewort. Blue leaf Cinque foil.

His whole future in front of him.

Four days later lightening strikes at that very pull out. Kills two. He texts me the news.

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