BACK COUNTRY

                                A man might own the land,
                                but the land also owned him.

                                            – Elmer Kelton (“The Good Old Boys”)

Years across the fire,
the underside of pine
licked by orange and blue
cat tongues, a steady dancing
reflected in our eyes,

we know what goes on
down the mountain
on the racetracks—
breeze in the cedars,
relentless tumbling
of the river, beyond
the static of their motors’
Geiger-counter metronomes.

Afoot or horseback,
these steep reaches laugh
at the clock, at convenience—
each step in scree another glimpse
of permanence, another look
at the rock we dwell upon—
granite peaks like islands thrust
beyond the seas of changing times.

Years across the fire,
safe within eternity,
we are immortal—
long moments free.

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