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