Mount Evans by Brad Walker

An asphalt ribbon winds through a forest of ponderosa pine and Aspen.
The cool evening air is heavy with the scent of pine and vanilla.
A setting sun paints the bellies of scattered, gray clouds in hues of amber and salmon,
as an alpine lake reflects the scene,
a mirror sets on a dark, grassy meadow
edged by shadowy walls of fir trees.

The ribbon becomes black in the fading light,
snaking upward through diminishing stands of trees
that take on grotesque shapes,
twisted and gnarled,
their windward sides stripped clean.
Bleached trunks stand out in the azure dusk
like thin,
writhing
ghosts.

Rocks and boulders cover the mountain’s shoulders like a cape.
The road becomes an embroidered stripe.
The steep shoulder of the mountain rises on my right,
the glow of dusk now snuffed.
On my left a cirque gleams far below,
an oval jewel in sequins of rock.

Swarms of flying insects dance in white-washed glow of headlights,
the roads rises upward.
With each switchback twin beams of light shine
straight and true into the black void
striking nothing,
until they swing back
to another short,
straight
strip
of narrow asphalt.

A stone building commands a barren field of rock.
The hum of the car’s engine stops,
the lights go out,
and a soft chime dings until
the jingle of keys removed from the ignition
silences it.
Two car doors slam shut.
I hear my son’s voice through the brisk breeze buffeting my ears,
“Whoa!”

Millions of stars,
unchallenged by earthly light,
glow above us,
bisected by a ghostly ribbon.
Smoke from a distant fire?
Or faint light from our arm of our ancient galaxy.
Lighting flashes on the horizon before us; we are above the distant clouds
as they run from us across the plains.

Amber galaxies
made by humanity
glow below us,
one
after
the other,
linked by thin strips of light.
I hear my own breath drawn
in astonishment of what I see.
I smell the clean dust of the summit,
and feel the chill of the mountain wind,
but I hardly notice discomfort
awed by man
his God,
our earth.



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