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"Once it was a gradual thing to leave a place."

Published onSep 18, 2019

“Dunraven Pass,” Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2003, 16x20, acrylic on canvas, Brianna Keeper

Once it was a gradual thing to leave a place.
Today a whoosh and everything is gone—

the Rocky Mountains with their snowy glaciers
melting into lakes and rivers, preternaturally
blue-green, the skinny spruce and fir trees
threaded tightly in a tapestry, the unseen
presence of black bears and wolves
and wolverines—

all disappeared, and we are back
among our shaven hills,
beside our faded bay,
as if the startling waters
and the castellated mountains
never were.

And yet they are.
Somewhere in a country we can’t see,
glaciers still are blending into clouds
and melting to the earth without us standing
on the shore of Lake Moraine,

Joyce Schmid is a grandmother and psychotherapist living in Palo Alto, California, with her husband of over half a century. Her recent work has appeared in Poetry Daily, Missouri Review, New Ohio Review, Antioch Review and other journals and anthologies.

Brianna Keeper is a painter living in Hunt, Texas, focusing on kayaking.

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