Thursday, September 25, 2008

"It's snowing this afternoon and there are no flowers"

[A free-writing exercise. Prompt: The above first line from a poem by Donald Justice.]

It's snowing this afternoon and there are no flowers--here, at least. I heard that in the next village a boy cliams to know a field high on the mountain where the flowers grow despite the cold, piercing the snow. Their red petals, he says, stand out like wounds. I see them: drops of blood on the cold skin of the mountain, blossoms of pain, grown from seeds of memory.

In this region, every mountain has its ghosts--travelers who lost their way and never retrieved it, spurned lovers who left society, hapless victims of weather.

The mountains loom over the hamlets that squat between them. Towering over us, they are our sky. Their crags teem with memories. We who live in the lap of the mountains can feel the gaze of those who have left our lives, but are not gone. No one leaves, really. They stay, and drive the clouds away from one peak. They stay, and gather the clouds around another, mounding up the roiling mists, wrapping themselves in fog. They stay, and send up scarlet flowers. They stay, and ride the snow flakes down to their old homes. They drift on the wind, they slide in the shadows.

We are never alone, not here, and there are no secrets. On a quiet day, we can hear the rocks whisper. In the wind, forgotten voices repeat their stories. Alone in this snow blanketed meadow, I can hear the sleeping flowers tell me of their dreams, as the snow continues to fall, bringing visitors from the past, from the mountains.

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