At Brunch, My Mother Tells Me To Write About
I told her I had to write a poem today, and asked what
it should be about. Mountains, she said. I wondered
if that meant a landscape. Any particular mountains?
She said no. Why mountains? I sipped my white wine,
which made her pick up her iced coffee. Because they’re
nice to see, but I don’t like climbing them. To the
of my knowledge, my mother has never, in her 94 years,
climbed a mountain. Maybe in a car counts. Popocatépetl!
said my husband. That mountain’s a volcano, too!
Leave it to a man to think of a volcano, I thought. Mom
laughed at the word “Popocatépetl.” He said it again.
She laughed harder. Which was fine. By then I was hiking
through a steep field in Arosa, Switzerland: blue sky,
wildflowers, cowbells, twenty years ago, winded, dizzy.
In my ears was The Mysterious Mountain Symphony
of Hovhaness, its awestruck French horns. Maybe I was
on my way to a mountaintop house with a tall fireplace
and many windows. Great distances opened before me,
then more mountains: brown and blue and white, calm
as Sphinxes, afternoon shadows passing over them like
a magician’s hands. My husband and my mother were
still laughing. I was the one taking life too seriously,
scared witless on its narrow uphill road, lost as usual in
the sunny dazzle of nothing, that deep, deep mountain air.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Christine Potter would be
pleased to hear them.