I reach the miner’s ruined cabin,
Each year more like a stack of weathered timber
Sinking from sight in the grass.
Around the bend, the scene: Alpine
Whiproot arcs from green, gentians spear
The sun, and, above me, the pass.
Here dwarf hawksbeard still lurks and sparks.
Lilies and bluebells burn, where willow
Gives way to tundra. The shifting shale marks
An edge from which I know the valley below.
A woman told me that, gazing on these same views,
Wildflowers cascading for miles, she had seen
Only black. I thought she had hoped to amuse,
But it wasn’t a joke at all. I thought, she’s insane,
She has to be. How could she have seen that?
But she went on and on, tugged my sleeve,
Insisting that I understand her, that what
She said was true, that I must believe.
Today I see again the colors below,
And feel the cold above, and observe:
Was it her mind, or just her eyes, the flow
Of light on retina and optic nerve?
Can I accept she saw the world the way
She’d said she did, and trust what she must bear,
That what she’d said was true, and that a ray
Of sun could grant her sights I could not share?
The flowers move like lakes in mountain wind,
Silvery lupine, baneberry, horsemint.
At my back, the climb remains, the air thinned,
Land starved of life, keen shards, the stark ascent.