Poetry | Across the Mountains


Across the Mountains

©2021 by Vernon Miles Kerr, VernonMilesKerr.com

1949

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.

1962

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.

1968

Married, visiting relatives in Oklahoma.

Now it was real,

That first night,

Unremembered-humidity

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..

2012

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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