At Some Elevation by William Doreski

At Some Elevation

The North Pack Monadnock cairn
poses in stolid, weathered calm.
Spruce-growth obstructs the view.

Years ago, I could look far west
from here and trace the highway
worming over a complacency

of panoramic contour and mist
bourgeois enough for Europe.
But now only a narrow prospect

slots in a crease in the tree-line.
Crows racket in the foliage.
Their cries sound like machinery

gone bad. The weave of spruce
repels the persistent wind.
Except where the trail hacks through,

it’s a solid mesh of will-to-live.
Some geological deity
placed this mountain just where needed

to rough and tease the landscape.
That same deity placed the first stone
on the cairn. Then Thoreau arrived

and placed another. In the dark,
those stones engendered more stones,
and now the cairn is breathing

like the tomb of a Pharaoh yet
to be looted. I look at myself,
sweaty and rumpled from climbing,

and pity the creature I dragged
so heavily up the rocky trail,
risking bone-breaks on icy smears

black against the dominant gray.
I’d like to stay all night and watch
the moon tickle across the spruce-tops,

but I’d get so hungry and lonely
that when the cairn rustled to life
I’d hardly notice. And when its bulk

poured over me I’d think rain
had come to refresh and crush me
with absolute and painless dark.

by William Doreski

Twitter: @wdoreski

Editor’s Note: The startling sonic imagery of this poem (“machinery // gone bad”) highlights the similes and metaphors beautifully.


One response to “At Some Elevation by William Doreski”

  1. Jill Clark Avatar

    Thank you for revealing Thoreau’s relationship with this mountain. In my studies of him, I remember he said the Indians would only climb so high to not affront the face of God.

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