anti-ode to the heart

by Mary Rose Manspeaker

one car passes through the heart of the mountain.
i try to measure their speed 

to ours, twisting the seatbelt with my body. i crane
forehead against glass. here,

there is only passing on 
asphalt in ever-broader strips. the crags,

evenly spaced, scales 
the earth formed when first we blasted rock aside.

hillsides blown clean & stripped. their bare, bare peaks.
where these mountains cower

back toward their siblings, the trees
begin to gray, branches gripped in white

cocoons, tent worms eating the world
just to be reborn, inseparable from the smoke

rising above mountain
mines & rigs. back home

the mountains bore witness to my first kiss.
they had little choice, anchored tighter to ground than i,

no language to tell them they are not the whole cracked earth,
despite the names i call them.

these words poor hybrids of the earth & my dreams 
of it. the car that drove clear through them

moored now on concrete slabs 
& from their height, with their worn-down trees

they guarded
the buttercups which ring my house in bloom, 

all blooming ash.


Image credit: Jeremy Bishop

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