By John Grey
Where the Water Falls
It cascades silver and foam from craggy heights down the rutted black face of sheer cliff. On contact with the river, in endless hiss, it replaces itself with more of itself. It cannot tie a shoelace, row a boat or boil a kettle. It merely does what I have come.
Waiters with slick black hair waltz by, wine glasses brimming on trays, sure of foot, their own and each other’s. And below me, the valley spreads, striated with trellises of vines, all heavy with green and purple clusters. Sun high up in the sky’s saddle, the hills are fully seen, from winery to winery, even a middle-ages monastery where the brothers stamp grapes underfoot. This world knows no change, even the night is just the daylight, sequestered in darkness for safekeeping. My goblet arrives, a chardonnay as clear as a Pyrenees lake. Workers rest on the slopes for lunch. A few white-capped vintners, adorned in red-stained aprons. Many a picker stretching the bend in their back. The wine’s story is before me, like the pages of a book, from the fruit of the first chapter, to the last, where a steady hand pours from a bottle. I can taste it and see it in the very same sip. My stomach even gets to be the epilog.
The Ups and Downs of the White Mountains
The granite’s tougher than whole armies, even this barren foot or so of cliff, the last before I break bread with the summit. Everything’s immense. And old. And dead. My heart no longer senses the click-track of the seasons. Climate may be cycling summer into fall, but here, if time moves, it’s strictly up and down, not onward. I reach the top. A hawk roams at my eye-level. He plummets for prey deep into the valley below. He’ll take his kill back to his nest. There’s is no other direction.
It’s like having the sun right here in my backyard. And not just the one. But five or six. But my suns get so heavy for their stalks, they droop, face downward. Like the real sun does. On its invisible stalk.
Alone and Company
So what to make of these strangers who pass me by, sometimes smile, mostly don't. What are they to me? What am I to them? And how many times need I repeat the questions before they vanish from my life forever. I have to get used to this. There are more people who don't know me than those who do. And, when I travel, everyone's a stranger. Even the hotel clerk, the tourist guide, the taxi driver. They're there to help. But they're just not there to know.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple and the MacGuffin.