Erin Parsch & Jeffrey Yang
The Mountain a poem for children

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Before time became time
before word, before water wheel
when the sun’s shadow fell on nameless things
and all things were sacred

as the Mountain, the Mountain lived,
giving life to things that breathed its air
of rock and water, river
unseen beneath, within, which became

the Mountain’s blood, mineral
veins branched out, seeped
soil, rock bull drank, spun
round and rolled in flowers

in the Mountain's valley, gourds and
squash grew wild, colors
and stripes of colors hidden in tall grasses
wind bent gold-green, a rain-

sun fullness, water flowed into water
giving earth its beetles and millipedes
tunneled deep, bridge between
above and beneath

Day the living day, nature's pure
equilibrium, river and Mountain,
a black bird on a black branch
still as rock, keeping watch

over tide, ice formed valley slope
to corrie, morraine under meltwater
coincidence of sun, red-bellied bird born
from water, spirit of water, spans sky

A drop on a leaf, slides, hangs
for a moment, tension, release
drop's body, what is reflected
of the world All-Nature, arc,

what is within, more than element,
force, bond, falls without reaching
eft, smiling, pink tongue slow drinks
lake enters body, body a sea

of mystery, dream, waking and unwaking
Night the sleep of fire, lightning
mind's memory, burning pine, wind
picks up storm without rain

Mountain returns to beginning, mind
falls back to earth's beginning, or never
beginning but eternal being, before object,
water wheel turning future song

consuming fire mineral metal, vegetable
colors morph to Nightshade creatures
serpiginous wisps of Mountain's will
shades rise, swirl round the burning fire,

swallow air, smoke, funneling in-breath
fire shrinks, subsides, leaving new earth, sky
clears stars silent, moon enormous vermilion
chop, embered seal from circled emptiness

illumines pines, bull roams, Mountain
a corner of the evolving shape, wind
brings seeds, tempered isolation
breeds diversity, genes

drift, river to river spills to gold to green,
each periphery a part, each blemish
cloud perfection, mantis tearing bee apart
to eat, each bee individual being

Mind spun from twin-spiral knot
river the river sounds away
moon waxes and wanes the same
each word echoes of the Dreaming

Mountain, animal, tree, stone
water speaks, fire speaks ore into air
energy's eternal delight, who
desired, they arrived at night

floating on vessels as if out of some
foreign future, faces rimmed with steel
centering two arrows numbers circled
one line spinning, upright figures

of empty suits, marching into earth
ignoring the living who watched in awe
the figures drinking the river, stripping the trees
reaching for Mountain's core substance

Red-bellied bird dove, bull charged,
insects snapped and stung
but found nothing, no resistance
not even vapor the empty suits

mere image mining rock, gathering
energy in thin side-cases, saving every
drop of discovery, turning the Mountain
into formless waste, quick the figures

worked, quicker than any memory,
then, for the last time in memory,
the Nightshades morphed, rose up,
swirled round the empty suits

faster and faster, wind and lightning,
thunder trembled earth, figure and shadow
vanished, vessels vanished, scattered
squash and gourds calcined ash

The black bird watched smoke, water
wheel porthole the sound of mourning
time's reign wind-carried words
no return to before, the Mountain

scarred, self-purifying, self-healing
now tongue, now body, we climbed
temple-forming footsteps, breath
to breath cycling sun and trees

For us living no longer wilderness
worshipe instilled, devoutness,
mountain making cities, roads lined
with corn pollen, take root, take root

Artwork © Erin Parsch / Text © Jeffrey Yang
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