Parker's Mountain

It is the summer bears ruled, the last summer 
of pure breathlessness
when I moved unaware, taken in 
by the netted branches of raspberries, held 
in trance by the sweet air
of the orchards. My grandfather 
died at home one night in early July
as expected, and the white clouds drifted like snow 
on the face of the black lake. 
Grandmother swept her porch clean, every morning 
pushed grief under the railings like wisps 
of an old bird's nest. Together 
we watched the she-bear heave both bins 
of garbage across the red clay road, her cubs 
somersaulting each other, never minding 
their mother's cautioning strikes. It is the summer 
I was on the brink of seeing
some unexperienced light, although I stood 
in darkness, or swam in spools
of dark while everything was bright around; 
the gold lilies and their shadows flickered 
one on one and the two swans stayed 
faithful and fierce in their cove. I was twelve 
and though I knew language
I did not know the meaning of things-- 
I lived within a lattice of time, unhurt, 
undifferentiated, so that even in remembering now 
there is only the singular quality
of that time itself; while I was there, 
in its duration, I was possessed, wind-mastered
as the scrolled fields of clouds and disappointed 
when the spell was broken and the real snow 
came, and the cold.

From Wind Somewhere, and Shade by Kate Knapp Johnson. Copyright © 2000 by Kate Knapp Johnson. Reprinted with permission of Miami University Press. All rights reserved.