AND THEN THE SKY
by Katherine West
Ground level, nothing
enters the wilderness, except feet—
horse feet, human feet. We start
at the river and work our way up
and through how many worlds?
From yellow willows through pink mini-canyons
through tawny and scarlet grasslands made by
fire and decorated with skeletons
to foot-tingling vertigo cliffs dropping
from white heights straight down to
vertical death straight out to horizontal
eye-flight—180 degrees of mountain waves
lapping at the sky.
And just like being lost at sea, I can feel
the lack of humanity. My human
radar finds nothing to ping against, no
roofs glinting in the sun, no
distant roar of traffic, or guns,
just the last of the falling leaves ticking
against each other like light rain on the roof,
catching the late sun like a flock of distant
birds at five o'clock.
Behind me, the pale half-moon rises silently
in the afternoon east—and I remember
how she rose with Venus on Halloween
when the first cold came and
made them very bright—still brighter
than the new, too-fast moving, human
Stars that surround them—and I remember
that there is no wilderness in the sky
as the F16s detonate their weekly flight.
* * * * *
"And Then The Sky" was first published in New Verse News which nominated it for a Pushcart Prize.
Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near the Gila Wilderness, where she writes poetry about the soul-importance of wilderness and performs it with her musician husband, Yaakov. She has written three collections of poetry: The Bone Train, Scimitar Dreams, and Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Lalitamba, Bombay Gin, and New Verse News.