A Bit of Beyond

Uploaded 7 Dec 2012 — 19 favorites
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© Pamela Haberman
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Favorites 19
Comments 12
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More of Pamela Haberman’s Photos

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Photo license: © All rights reserved

What the Mountain Saw

They arrive by night, travel-stunned, and see nothing.

They sleep wrapped in pine-tang and the rush of waters.

The father is first awake. He clacks the shutters back

and a mountain squats square in the window, looking in.

It never leaves them, though it changes hour by hour,

twisting a scarf of cloud, or turning a hard profile

to the morning sun, or dissembling a sugar-pink haze.

However far they walk – and they walk, walk every day –

it's above them, a bit of beyond. Some snow hangs on

in shreds. This is a famous north face, and a killer.

Each day the father scans it with his old binoculars

for any hint of tracks, and never finds them.

So the holiday proceeds, in a series of snapshots.

Here, in mid-stride, he crests a rise, wife and child

at his boot-heels, tranced by their thud and the heat

and the insect hum. But the snow-face is no nearer.

Here, through veils of spruce, he breaks into a glade

possessed by pallid green-veined hellebores.

Or here, he brings the family, breathless, to its knees

before one icicle-white wild crocus. Here is the lake

he finds them, like a souvenir, round and still

enough to hold the mountain, till a fish jumps.

In between, there are the hours he drives them on

for health. Stop too long, the sweat begins to chill.

'Breathe deep!' he cries, and strikes out higher

up a wide white stony stream-bed, tumbled and scoured

by the spring-melt, strewn with tree-trunks, torn

and bleached, and a few tiny tough mauve flowers

he can't name. He grips the child's hand as she teeters

on a plank beneath a waterfall. Its ice-breath touches them.

Their hair goes white with spray. Afterwards he will say

'This was our furthest point,' and sigh. As they drag home

footsore, the mountain shows itself again behind them,

in its pure dream of itself, untouched … Just as now

it looks in through the breakfast-room window when the child,

as if the strings that controlled her had fouled

and were jerked tight, has one of her turns. An egg

tips from its silver cup, a glass pirouettes to the edge

but has not yet smashed, the other guests have not

yet turned to stare, the father reaches for her but

is frozen. He will never reach her. Any moment now

the yolk will burst on crisply laundered linen. Soon

there will be splinters and tears. Behind it all he sees

the mountain at the window. If one could stand there

looking down, he thinks, this would all be very small.

~ Philip Gross

12 responses

  • DrearyAmbition

    DrearyAmbition said (7 Dec 2012):

    So beautiful!!

  • James Wiley

    James Wiley gave props (7 Dec 2012):

    The way those highlights pop out of the clouds...marvelous!

  • Ted Anderson

    Ted Anderson (Deleted) gave props (7 Dec 2012):

    Wonderful image, just wonderful.

  • peter bodigor

    peter bodigor gave props (8 Dec 2012):

    Fantastic !!!!

  • Katherine Nak

    Katherine Nak   gave props (9 Dec 2012):

    Fab black an white, Love this!

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (9 Dec 2012):

    Just fantastic!

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (12 Dec 2012):


  • Laurie Search

    Laurie Search gave props (24 Dec 2012):

    Wow, this is so gorgeous, Pamela!!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (1 Jan 2013):

    OUTstanding! (pun included just for the hell of it)

  • Pedro Teixeira

    Pedro Teixeira gave props (25 Jan 2013):

    Love it!

  • Jeffrey Chastain

    Jeffrey Chastain gave props (24 Mar 2013):

    Spectacular, yet quiet. Love the image, love the poem.

  • Mariah

    Mariah gave props (26 Oct 2014):

    Wow! This is beautiful, I love the tonality.

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