While you scramble over the rocks, lost in some boyhood
dream of pirates, hidden treasure, or something missed
by smugglers bringing in hooch, I’m waiting
on a cold stone wall. There’s nothing here but rock,
tons of rock; the mountain could shrug,
and we’d all be crushed. It’s not really a cave,
but a natural shelter, hodge-podge of boulders,
giant’s careless pile of toys. There’s a spirit here
of indifference, something that wants us gone.
Driving up, it was all red leaves, blue sky.
Now everything’s gray, leached of color,
from the overhang to the rising cliffs. Schist
and granite, the bones of the earth. And I’m
an ant, a speck, trying to stay warm, thinking
about the apple in my pack, something I could
put my hands around, something that rooted in soil,
drank water, something that burns like the sun.
Barbara Crooker’s previous publications are: The Valparaiso Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, Tar River Review, The Hollins Critic, The Green Mountains Review, The Denver Quarterly, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, and Garrison Keiller’s Good Poems for Hard Times and Good Poems American Places, plus her work has been read twenty times on his Writer’s Almanac. She has been fortunate to receive poetry writing fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her books are Radiance, winner of the Word Press First Book Award (2005) and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence; More (C&R Press, 2010); and Gold (The Poeima Poetry Series, Cascade Books, 2013).