Start with a base map, unlabeled terrain, in shaded green and ochre, nude relief, cool continental mass bathing in blue, a face whose features now are visible, unannotated, apolitical, as if a mighty snow had settled here and muffled every static line and letter, earth as naked as the moon, but full of lively color, from the fissured west into the placid belly of the country, eastward over quartzite ridge, carbonate valley into southwest-trending s-curves up the coast, a range two thousand miles, two hundred fifty million years of mountain formed in three successive waves of rock uplifted and depressed, and in the west it’s just begun. Nine hundred million acres under time, under stress and stretches of content. Reserved for a duration. Blue-green grid of constant revolution.
Copyright © 2017 by Susan Barba. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.