(click on photo to enlarge)
Cushion Pink Timberline


: the point at which the alpine
forest gradually gives way
to snow and cold,

a tree grows about as fast as
water wears down a rock,

and a year's growth
is measured by the width
   of a whisper.


At the meeting place of low gnarled trees and the leathery-
leaved ericas of the open tundra, a solitary butterfly lights
upon a rock. Resting I suppose, filling its wings with the
warmth of the afternoon sun. So striking, this harmony
of mirror symmetry, of the pixel-like sprays of bright orange
and white dots on a flat earthy brown.

A cloud passes by and the butterfly changes itself instantly
from figure into ground. Wings tightly closed, the brilliance
of a moment ago is now hushed in the stillness of granite gray
and lichen black, all but invisible to even the most sharp-sighted

Such masters of transformation, of perfect balance. Wings open,
a delicate song with all the lightness of a late summer breeze;
wings closed, and the movement folds itself into that other,
more shadowy realm of the quiet and unseen.

| view / print Picture/Poem Poster: Timberline (86 K) | or download as PDF |
| go to ListeningPage: Timberline (1) and (2) [QuickTime]; or listen in RealAudio |
(Photo: Cushion Pink (Silene excapa) at 2700 meters, late summer, the Alps)
| go to Picture/Poems: Central Display | back to PicturePage: Week I |

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IV.7.1999; Last update: III.4.2002)
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