Way Out Over Copland’s Appalachian Springs

 

T.Wignesan

 

We dragged the slopes to our feet.

On the summit, we burnt our clothes

for wood and there shuffled our feet

in the hush of the falling snow.

 

We had come out of the scuffed grass.

 

With one look back in unbelief

exhuming the long trek

the silent keen

puffing through blubbery fingers.

We pulled the hoofed trail through

the trapdoor of our unchained links

foisting for new heights.

 

Beyond the Appalachian Mountains

the hanging fern on pine dripped snow

on moles burrowing in gashed hollows.

 

We paused. In that doubtful moment

we rued the climb, succumbing to the assault

upon this stilled millennia’s eerie silence.

 

All that time the swivelling blizzards raged

shifting soil, eroding avalanches.

Below, burgeoning customs

unmaned the silent dignity of bisons.

All bore testimony to a familiar preparation.

 

And then, suddenly before our eyes

the solemn ground rose with the breeze

the spangled map changing to the quick:

 

Chicago Pittsburgh Kansas City

wild barnyards dry-coughing, pop-corning garages

horrent timber ribbed the coasting steamboats

the linoleum walls

the mild Indian piqued he was

by the mahogany cubism of our speech.

 

We wondered if coming so far

only mattered, we would be content

to build a fire, here and now

and unpack our horses.

 

We saw little need to go on.

 

One night the summit might open

up and swallow us all or old age

would come upon us like a lonely neighbour

on a pretext to the door.

 

 

T.Wignesan 1964

London, U.K.

[from the collection: tell them i’m gone, 1983; published in Fire Readings (A Collection of Contemporary Writing from the Shakespeare & Company Fire Benefit Readings). Paris-Boston: Frank Books, 1991, pp. 36-37.]