‘We’ll pass, thank you,’ they said,
So politely, of course,
And I nodded and held my breath for a long time
While disappointment hammered my forehead
And my lungs expanded with embarrassment.
Staring at nothing, I remembered:
Driving up from the Columbia Gorge,
Cresting a last ridge in the hot sunshine.
There stood Mt. Rainier, a floating monolith,
Looking at me peacefully across the miles.
I had the same feeling then,
As if I’d been struck in the face
And my ribs could no longer contain my lungs.
I wanted to gain the immobility of the mountain
And feel nothing as I loomed over time.
To have absolute greatness in myself,
To change so slowly no one can perceive it,
To have no care whether I am accepted or rejected
Because I am perfect in my enormous being –
That is the happiness I desire.
There are so many things to want:
Success in poetry, money, fame and friends,
All of them equally evasive.
Perhaps it’s better to be a mountain,
To exist with divine disinterest in it all.
One after another, the agents and journals and publishers
Shrug their shoulders and wave me off,
Shaking their heads and saying,
‘Not quite our style, I’m afraid.’
Fifty attempts later the words still stun.
A bible phrase from childhood returns to mind –
‘Desire of the everlasting hills.’
I want to practice a mountainous stillness
And reach the silence beyond ten thousand feet.