Madonna del Parto
And then smelling it, feeling it before the sound even reaches him, he kneels at cliff’s edge and for the first time, turns his head toward the now visible falls that gush over a quarter- mile of uplifted sheet- granite across the valley and he pauses, lowering his eyes for a moment, unable to withstand the tranquility—vast, unencumbered, terrifying, and primal. That naked river enthroned upon the massif altar, bowed cypresses congregating on both sides of sun-gleaming rock, a rip in the fabric of the ongoing forest from which rises— as he tries to stand, tottering, half- paralyzed—a shifting rainbow volatilized by ceaseless explosion.
Copyright © 2018 by Forrest Gander. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 8, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.