igher than mulberry stain,
I think not. Nor higher than
the succulent spruce scent.
The spirit’s in the sturdiest boots,
clutches the heftiest walking stick,
stalks the holiest of ghosts
along rock-stubbled paths
from road to jagged tree-line and beyond.
Woodpecker hammer, cricket chorus,
these are hymns to lift the world out
of its fields, its scattered houses.
The madrigals are warbler trills,
the matins celebrated with a moment’s rest
against a welcoming black cherry trunk.
Lilacs hum. Dandelions faintly echo.
Ravens caw their ageless gospels.
And then no chant more insidious
than the cool blanket of silence
when the leafy boughs of oaks
devour all sightlines with their shadow.
Nothing higher than the friendly taunt
of tired muscle, the perfect puzzles
of a thrice-unfolded map.
Lichen knows its scripture,
grows only ever where it is.
and their deep roots of belief.
I intrude enough on their cathedral
until I’m more in than out
of their lush congregation.
Nothing higher than cool wilderness breath.
Not even higher than the elevation
I reach, when the forest falls below me
and the sacred mountains assemble,
stained-glass windows of my awe.
For the distant white-cap is where
prayer and sweat are fused,
where cliff and cavern kneel beneath
the altars of the sun.
* * * * *
John Grey is an Australian-born poet, but has been a US resident since the late seventies. He works as financial systems analyst, and has recently been published in Xavier Review, White Wall Review and Writer’s Bloc with work upcoming in Poem, Prism International and the Cider Press Review. John Grey has been published recently in The Talking River, South Carolina Review and Karamu with work upcoming in Prism International, Poem and The Evansville Review.
His other contributions to the Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.