Backlit snows on distant peaks;

The rest of the world is shadow

The wind is strangely absent

And it’s clear that it is going to rain.

Two thousand feet up and fifteen miles away

is an alpine meadow.

The fireweed is burning red,

The only sounds: the whispers of leaves

Alighting on the grass.

It smells of ripeness and rot,

of a summer coming to an end,

portending the deeper silence of December


The room is stuffy as students shift in their seats.

It smells of body odor and misapplied perfume

The only windows in the classroom face the hall,

Witnesses to a silence, cold and institutional.

There is frustration and boredom on the faces of my students

Frustration and boredom in my mind as well,

Creeping like frost into unwelcome places.

I consider a landscape that is quiet –

Where I am noticeably absent

And the muted sounds of autumn are not attended by my ears.

Something inside me breaks at the incongruence

of where I am and where I want to be.

I will have to remember next time

To harvest the scene

more carefully with my mind

— the smells and sounds —

as sustenance for future days

and for future years.


  • Kaylene

    September 24, 2010 at 9:54 pm Reply

    Gorgeous. . . makes my heart ache.

  • zeke

    May 21, 2015 at 1:47 pm Reply

    wow mr j that’s some deep shit

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