You must ascend a mountain to learn
your relation to matter. —Henry David Thoreau

The summit staged a glimpse. The West became
a canvas. When I’m dispersed, it draws back.
That chalked terrain: peaks pleated, engraved, cocked-
pinched infinity, fabric embroidered
with the white flares of lingering snowpack.
I thought, how else might I conjure heaven?
My mind’s museumed, hammered facts, haloed
proofs, disturbed forever. Imagine them
clenching fists at infringement. They’d had god’s
licensed niche: the jig was all but up.

D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 36 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. His latest of eight collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres) and Surreal Expulsion (Poetry Box), and the chapbook Flip Requiem will appear in February 2020 (Dos Madres).