I called three times across the mountain.
I called twice more.
I called three times across the mountain
and you heard me,
from the grass below, when I jumped headlong into the sky.
The tired elk sleeping by the stone grist mill heard me too,
and the new anemone,
and somewhere where you couldn’t reach her,
a black bear heard me and thought of nothing but the masting oak trees.
You were the only one who called back to me.
Your cruel, clumsy best, too loud, too human.
You didn’t know better.
My love, raw and hoarse,
in four calls above the burnt table mountain pines.
From their tops I could see the heavy cones below,
like weapons, clutching onto seeds.
Words should fail sometimes,
like a forest fire fails a mountain,
leaving tiny pine trees.
I called four times
again and again and again and again
until you and I heard together
a mirror cry from past the river
and I went to meet her.
This time you were totally silent,
only listening, running your hands along the moss.
You knew love, at least,
if love is sound echoing in the terpine fog, and it is.
You showed your love the trailing arbutus,
the first time you saw it bloom,
its ground-locked leaves.
You could also cry across the mountain.
You could say Come back to me.
I would listen.
your little voice below the treeline,
bleeding into the moving waters red clay.
How do you ever find each other,
epigaea repens, earth-crawlers?
But you do.
I saw him come back to you,
wingless, across the mountain.
I saw the way he listened too.
Poem by Thomas Nuhfer
Thomas is an emerging poet and recent graduate of Marlboro College, transplanted from Georgia to southern Vermont. He writes poetry addressing shape, family, and grief, informed by a background in ecology and plant taxonomy. Thomas spends leisure time cooking, reclining, and woefully neglecting a garden.