“Though the mountains fall into the sea”
describes the faith of some, but the mountains do not move
whatever we say, whatever saints and shamans do.
It is their indifference to us that makes them sacred.
On the edge of this flat town, beyond the pueblo,
the black mountain rises, a reference point
to every human moment, utterly silent.
No one climbs this mountain, there are no trails,
because the place is holy: it does not exist to serve us,
it is not meant to please us, it simply is,
and in this way it is a god.
Mountains do not move, and that is their mountainness.
Geologists can say they have moved over time,
but not in human time. This mountain outside my window
has always been there: when the pueblo was built,
when the Spanish came and were driven away,
when the missionaries returned, then Americans and Apache.
The mountain abides. That is its power
in imagination and worship. Were it to respond
to our prayers and dances it would cease to be itself.
Its silence is what we listen to, and the reason
it is a source of strength. I will not pretend
it whispers secrets to me or that I have pleased it.
The mountain is black even in sunlight or capped with snow.
It may have its back turned to the human
like an inscrutable mother in a shawl.
There are no signs given us to read
and any language to describe it is our own.
The fact of the mountain is our bare and only creed.
by Stephen Hollaway
from the Ecotheo Review