the avalanche artist

for Myke

he's a closed-up man,
a line drawn in the sand man,
a maze of a man.

he knows the mountainside;
it's a coat he shrugs over his shoulders
the sweep of its vista from the canyon floor
each scrub pine and field mouse, goat perched
on a crag, the heft and shape
of every boulder, pebble, cliff
etched across his back

and he lifts a questing fingertip, to touch
just so
how so

and so
the avalanche that's cradled down the slope
shakes itself awake
he loves, he mourns, he cherishes
the thundering it makes

I think he hopes
I curl around my seismograph
and think he hopes

it shudders past the boles of trees
rolls crushing over burrows; dust
drenches out the sun, the switchback game trails
brushed aside like words in dirt
swept by a broad, flat hand

but when the flung shale settles into place
the traveled stones halt under their own weight
moss to the sky
there he stands, he stands, he stands, he does not break

and there he waits

to hear the still, small whisper
which will tell him why