Glacier Landscape
from On the Wayside
Every Valley
Has Two Sides

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A cluster of stone huts,
huddled together like sheep
in a storm;

Roofs made of the split slabs
of granite rock, some still whole,
some broken, but all speak
of a time when time moved
more slowly,

and walls were built with a care
that carried the snow of two,
three, perhaps five hundred winters.

One old couple is all that remains,
children grown, married,
gone to town;

Two cows, a calf and three goats
keep all eight alive, and warm
their house on-top-of barn
on-top-of rock.

The town is slowly creeping up
to this place;

A road has been built,
and other huts
bought and restored,

    for summer...

That time of year
when the mountains bloom
with full-breasted goat-girls,
barefoot, flowers in their hair.

   The tourists
   do not know
   the dark side,

when the earth-energy contracts
from the crowns of trees
back down to the roots,

and the sun goes away
for months at a time;

It is this movement,
made round and ripened
with wet hay, dead calves
and avalanche springs,

that radiates
from the old man's
bloodshot eyes

as he gives me water
and tells me—

   "You'll get lost,
    on that path."

(Photo: Glacier Retreat, West-Northwest, The end or terminal moraine of this glacier has
since 1912 retreated more than 1500 meters. To get an idea how much has melted away,
imagine the valley filled with one massive sheet of ice almost to the point where this
photograph was made. The Alps.)

| go to other Wayside poems: On the Wayside | also from the same cycle: Wanderer |

| go to Picture/Poems: Central Display | go to PicturePage: Week IV |

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Copyright © 2002 Cliff Crego   Comments to
XI.26.1999 (Last update: VI.8.2003 )