By A. F. Popper
For more than a year, he neither kissed nor held a woman,
Though he lived among them and had many as friends.
Hiking the front range two hours from the city
He crossed the tree line, a marmot run moonscape,
Where stark skies and summits feed astronomers dreams.
Then thin air was wind and wind became water
As gullies transformed and torrents descended,
An aqueous chaos that could not silence
The essence and tone of that singular voice,
A clarinet whisper cutting through windblasts,
Her clarity directing – and then he saw her
Teeter and steady, fifty feet below.
He dropped to the ground, crawling and grasping,
Deceived by soaked lichen, clutching the scrub pine,
Heels before him, inching and falling, at last to her side,
Fifty feet below.
She, a lone hiker, a circuit trail champion,
Had glimpsed red-tailed falcon
Or was it a goshawk challenging the sun,
And slipped on the mica, flecked sodden mirrors
Hidden in rubble that spun her off course.
She fell as if struck, rolled and collided
With the last solid outcrop before the abyss,
That hard happy granite
Saved her sweet life.
Alone in a deluge, two hikers at cliff’s edge,
Plan their ascent as thunder surrounds them,
Study the hillside, talk out the handholds
Slowly pull upward, faith in their moves.
Back on the path, a long hug then backpacks,
Tied shoes and planning, walking together,
When wind blows the last rain toward some other hillside
Toward some other hikers who meet on a mountain
And wonder if salvation will grant an embrace.
By A. F. Popper
In sunlit parts her face revealed
The aching themes
Of cherished Sundays
Released to feed the wind.
I know you doubt
But grand symphonic
With genius bowing eights rows deep
Can scarcely match
Her star blue echoes
Her sublime tonal bliss.
We sat on benches
Moved from the basement
Open to claim all she conveyed
Every fragment, the words frail boundaries
Simple shining frames.
This was the singer
Who lived north of our town
Who transformed the rain
That started to fall.
This was the voice
Of life in the mountains
Of grace and compassion,
The purest of springs.