Three men gather. To honor another who has died,
To set a stone in his favorite meadow.
walk into mountains until coming to a field
Where one man decides to sit awhile. Two men
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
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.
Day and night, the lake dreams of
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,
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
itself and the path it throws; the moon
A riddled stone. If only
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