Poetry | Across the Mountains

Across the Mountains

©2021 by Vernon Miles Kerr, VernonMilesKerr.com


Over the years, Mom and Pop had tried California,

but something always drew them back East.

Maybe they pined for that slower pace,

a less crowded place.

But when I was six, back they came,

Spanning the Continental Divide,

Several mountain ranges,

And a boring beating of desert,

To bring us back to L.A. for good,

Thereafter, to a brittle dry life —

With air sucked of moisture

By the undisturbed sun beating on the long Valley,

Braising all but the most stubborn dampness from it.

This was the new norm: a life of empty, thin air,

Unnoticed air — and unnoticed weather.


Top o’ Millstone Avenue in Santa Maria,

Pop, from his pulpit at the kichen table

Over coffee, between pulls from his pipe —

Or those evil, dark cigarettes —

Spinning sermonettes of Oklahoma youth:

Hunting, fishing, swimming

In favorite swimming holes —

Ignoring the water moccasins,

Being immune to poison ivy —

Some kind of truce with nature.

It sounded so very far away and so long ago.


Married, visiting relatives in Oklahoma.

Now it was real,

That first night,


Soaking wet sheets

Limp curtains in front of open windows

Unceasing rasping buzz of some insect

Dominating strangely fuzzy-velvet night air —

Cicadas. What are those?

Sleep intermittant..


Away from the Plains a few years;

Pulling into the parking lot in Indy

Tires hot from the drive across the mountains,

Opening the car door

Feeling eveloped in deep, soft humidity.

Ears assaulted by raspy cicada-racket.

While a siilent firefly streaks in the woods,

Feeling joy.

It’s anohter world

Across the mountains.

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