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Sophie Cabot Black


The Mountain

Three men gather. To honor another who has died, 
To set a stone in his favorite meadow. 
They walk into mountains until coming to a field 
Where one man decides to sit awhile. Two men 
Continue up the watershed, speaking 
Of women and hay and how it has been too long 
Since the rains, even the elk have come down. 
When they get to the next clearing, the second man 
Climbs into a tree and falls asleep. He is tired 
And does not want to be with the other. 
Into the cold evening the third man rises, and the owl waits 
Until she can no longer. He holds his hands 
Over a fire he has built in the treeless North. 
He is thinking of the descent, all of it.

The Lake

Day and night, the lake dreams of sky. 

A privacy as old as the mountains 

And her up there, stuck among peaks. The whole eye 

Fastened on hawk, gatherings of cloud or stars, 

So little trespass. An airplane once 

Crossed her brow; she searched but could not find 

A face. Having lived with such strict beauty 

She comes to know how the sun is nothing 

But itself and the path it throws; the moon 

A riddled stone. If only a hand 

Would tremble along her cheek, would disturb. Even the elk 

Pass by, drawn to the spill of creeks below— 

How she cannot help abundance, even as it leaves 

Her, as it sings all the way down the mountain. 

-from The Descent 


Listen to a reading of "The Lake" here

Buy Sophie Cabot Black's books here.