Before I go, I have something to say

O Pioneers

“Tundra plants are fragile. Please stay on paths.”
– sign at summit of Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park

We drive up where the summer meets the snow,
where tundra grows in view of mountain peaks.
The cold is shocking, from a sky so blue,
as unexpected as the wind that rakes
the scrim of summer off this August day.
My husband of two weeks is being kind,
and all those walking by us cannot see
his mercy is capricious, like the wind.
I have to find a way to grow like these,
the tender plants that tremble at our feet,
adapted to the bitter without cease,
yet blooming in their season, proud and mute.
Our tourists’ feet go where we will not hear
the warning meant to save us from despair.


Published in The Formalist, vol. 12, no. 1, 2001

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