Devotee

Anne Waldman - 1945-

for the wisdom of the Rocky Mountain National Park

what to call wild use
of nature
to the human
where character
is centered
entering like a devotee,
genuflecting, vast space
what to call drama
of containment edging
unknown? tundra’s
tenacious
front to the stars,
above all tree-lines
can you breathe?
what is your risk,
anthropoid?
to lichen, moss imbricating
delicate plants hundreds
years
in the making
shivery!  sweetest
tiny world
what’s next,
where is our ark?
all directions of space
glance across moraines
near and far to plunge
or fly?
gambol like a shaman with
mountain denizens
a raw and windblown
dance
of preservation,
let no one break or tread
rigor you barely understand,
o human rangers
guardians as keepers of
land’s vision
inside trembling
precarious
Anthropocene
make wonder, not wreck
things you barely
know of this world
bow down to
dark power’s
indigenous alchemy
wild basin
when I could see death
inside the camp’s firelight
night we sat vigil for our sick friend
in coma and
sun was strong by day
and later ice was blinding
(he lived a little longer)

ecology of mind!
“to preserve this
element of unknown places”
(Aldo Leopold)
when it was never summer
when it was timeless
Rocky spine cut a divide
touched a nerve
confluence of lines,
east & west
held a universe
let us in
Blake’s garden of love
and see what you
never have seen
marked out by the magus
trickster shaman
playing in
zone of the bighorn
there is an elk in your future
if you wait
there is a black bear in your future
if you let him live
beyond Illusion
of the poetic
not made in your image
for your pleasure
yet they are sublime
(beneath a surface
cities of discontent
go down)
walk climb stop stare
rake
mind’s neurons flashing
you stumble
you gaze
you touch inside loneliness
at 11,000  feet
moose and elk
in continuity
below
mirroring illuminating
a beautiful
desolation
outburst sounding
rut and passion
a circuitous present
where you
pick up
a shard of shell
back up
on the tundra
evidence of
once was ocean
wisdom
dakinis,
lokapalas, imps
mountain deities
nod and
bow, o gratitude!
without this
care
we lose our way
kill the thing we need, we love
you better know.



Aldo Leopold (1887-1948): American philosopher and ecologist,
best known for his book Sand Country Almanac.

dakinis:  female embodiments of enlightened energy

lokapalas: dieties of place

More by Anne Waldman

Stereo

Marriage marriage is like you say everything everything in stereo stereo fall fall on the bed bed at dawn dawn because you work work all night. Night is an apartment. Meant to be marriage. Marriage is an apartment & meant people people come in in because when when you marry marry chances are there will be edibles edibles to eat at tables tables in the house. House will be the apartment which is night night. There there will be a bed bed & an extra bed bed a clean sheet sheet sheet or two two for guests guests one extra towel. Extra towel. How will you be welcomed? There will be drinks drinks galore galore brought by armies of guests guests casks casks of liquors liquors & brandies brandies elixirs sweet & bitter bitter bottle of Merlot Merlot Bustelo coffee. Will you have some when I offer. When you are married married there will be handsome gifts for the kitchen kitchen sometimes two of every thing. Everything is brand brand new new. Espresso coffee cups, a Finnish plate, a clock, a doormat, pieces of Art. And books of astonishing Medical Science with pictures. Even richer lexicons. When you are married married there will be more sheets sheets & towels towels arriving arriving & often often a pet pet or two two. You definitely need a telephone & a cellphone when you are married married. Two two two two lines lines lines lines. You need need separate separate electronic mail electronic mail accounts accounts. When you are married married you will have sets sets of things things, of more sheets & towels matching, you will have duplicates of things, you will have just one tablecloth. When you are married married you will be responsible when neighbors neighbors greet you. You will smile smile in unison unison or you might say he is fine, she is fine, o she is just down with a cold, o he is consoling a weary traveler just now, arrived from across the Plains. She my husband is due home soon, he my wife is busy at the moment, my husband he is very very busy busy at the moment moment this very moment. Meant good-bye, good-bye. When you are married married sex sex will happen happen without delay delay. You will have a mailbox mailbox & a doorbell doorbell. Bell bell ring ring it rings rings again a double time. You do not have to answer. That's sure for when you are married people people understand understand you do not not have to answer answer a doorbell doorbell because sex sex may happen happen without delay delay. You will hear everything twice, through your ears & the ears of the other. Her or him as a case case may be be. He & he & she & she as a case case may be may be. When you are married married you can play play with names names & rename yourself if you like. You can add a name, have a double name with a hyphen if you like. You can open joint accounts when you are married. Marriage is no guarantee against depression. A shun is no guarantee against anything. Marriage is no guarantee against resolution. Revolution is a tricky word word. Here, you hear here? Marriage is sweeter sweeter than you think. Think.

Related Poems

Île des Monts Déserts

It is very high, and notched in places, so that there is the appearance to one at sea, as of seven or eight mountains extending along near each other. The summit of most of them is destitute of trees… I named it Île des Monts Déserts. 
—Samuel de Champlain, 1604

 

When Samuel de Champlain sailed into Frenchman’s Bay
and saw this island’s evergreen mountains
blown clean back to ledge along their ridges,
this utterly foreign land,
an island foreign even to its coast—

it’s founded on a piece of Africa,
brought with us in the drift—

I know there were people living here but I’m thinking
of Champlain because he was coming from
a world not all that different from ours now
of crowded, elbowing streets and long-hour shifts,
a landscape cleared and plowed, or paved and built,
the power to change tight-fisted held by a few,
and grinding, messy wars that go on and on,
from which he had returned to make this voyage—

When Champlain sailed in here in one of those
square-rigged ships that can only follow the wind,
the whole crew thirsty, in clothes that must have been
putrid, having stared for months at nothing
but water, sliced at the world’s edge cleanly

and saw this place we still see from the ocean—
huge rock pushed through by a liquid fire
then sledged by mile-deep ice into a thing
of character, and then grown over
by the green that rules this world—

did he believe again, or for the first time,
in the holiness of the earth, the unassailable
authority of Earth, its calm command
beyond whatever temper tantrum Man
throws on its floor, or did he think

he’d simply entered heaven?

This isn’t exactly the question I have in mind.
Perhaps it isn’t a question. 
But I like thinking about Champlain catching sight
of this humped jungle, these long heads lifted
thoughtfully, then sailing closer
until it became a world—

thinking about his era’s view of the earth,
in which, wherever you sail, it just keeps
sending up mountains and lakes and beaches and forests,
how easy and right it must have seemed
to believe in a power far beyond ourselves,
in a kind of benevolent infinity…

I guess I am looking for my own direction
in the world such as it is—
like his, but lacking that one key hope:
that when this land is burned, there will always be another—

my own way to think of Acadia,
this ever-more-precious island we’ve somehow kept
wooded, and rocky, and punctured through with clear lakes—
enough like it was that if you hold
your finger across the houses at its feet
you can still, sailing into Somes Sound,
see more or less the place that Champlain saw

and, also, know the place for the first time—

which is always the feeling of powerful beauty, isn’t it—
that something has been here the whole time
and we are just now seeing it,
and must now reconsider all our theories
that there could be such a place—

or poem, or string quartet, or person?

They come in droves now, a long string tugging them
ever across the land bridge to gaze down
from the steep western cliff of Cadillac
into the open eye of Eagle Lake,

the tree-massed mountains of Penobscot and Sargent
building up beyond it like the land is still gaining power,
their sheer cliff walls like cities left by dreams,

and the ocean laid out flat, its moss-tuft islands’
miniatures of cliffs and beaches calm
as if you had imagined them—

Is it the kind of life you could live
that you see here?  French Jesuits

came next, to bring around the souls
of those already here; they set up camp
at Fernald Point, and I wonder, too, if they saw

where they were, or just the prospect
of some better place—Mount Saint Sauveur,
not yet named, but standing up

god-like behind them, its sheer rock plunging
straight down into water, down through murk
for miles to find its footing.