The Aura of a Self-Willed Land

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The Aura of a Self-Willed Land

by Sara Aranda

“Mountains have many moods.” – Jack Turner, The Abstract Wild

I.

At night the Milky Way dusts the sky,
falls to powder the Earth by day,
snow cluttered labyrinths
between the trees
misty winds,
ice-laced river.
Shadows leave numb strands of bark,
and the sun, pale in its light,
only whispers of warmth.

Old elk tracks wander through the trees
gentle dimples for white flesh –
here I am too late
and soon the snow will braid itself
into the wind.
Erase myself, too.

A lesson for the wanderer,
like the bear
who left no tracks,
or the owl who left
his perch at dawn,
to follow the dust
back into the sky.

II.

The long grass in the lake
waves with the water
like hair, slowly rippling.
White flowers line the bank
the trees echo the breeze
fish break the surface,
throw themselves
skyward.
Their splashes are like small hands
playing with the water.
I am the animal that peers
from the shade of a pine.
I am nothing here
but animal,
and the grass does not care
how I sit to study its length.

III.

I watch the dragonfly and milkweed meadow
as smoke fills the sky,
turns the sun a dark disk
erases the lines of all the granite walls,
a dreamscape of pastels
washed in dark milk.
The earth is speaking in crackling pops,
but the birds still croon
and the deer still roam the ferns.
Just another day
on the wheel of weather
of reincarnation, here
where the meadow sings
hot hisses
sweet whispers
for all the little seeds.

IV.

A granite buttress aches
during the night,
shrugs shoulder to unstiffen itself.
Old flakes and bricks slide,
tumbling shooting dust,
rupture
of mountain flesh and tree.
The chaos creates its own weather,
like a star born from the sky
emerging, finally, from a molten cloud
wild and fierce,
a new body among a talus of constellations,
a white beast in this valley of darkness,
sparkling there, now cooled,
its pale skin dressed by starlight.

The moon then rises
to the final sound of settling shudders,
wraps its motherly arms
around the nude flesh
of this star turned stone.

V.

I woke up by the river
silenced by the mountains,
a gray morning over this cattle land
no wind to stir my skin.
Low clouds lazily drift about the cliffs
catching the tiniest of granite edges.
I am awake with the morning
but hungry and worn.
The river begins to whisper
as the grass abides to its flow,
and birds begin to chatter about mornings past.
I am the one out of place here, again,
just a visitor to this holy stretch of earth
but the mountains speak to me
despite my skin,
tell me stories of creation,
and this aura
of a self-willed land.

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