Three Poems – George Moore

George MooreGeorge Moore’s poetry has appeared in the Atlantic, Poetry, Stand, Orion, North American Review, and the Colorado Review. He has been a finalist for The National Poetry Series, The Brittingham Award, and the Anhinga Prize, and shortlisted for the 2017 Bailieborough Poetry Prize. His books include Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FurureCycle Press 2016) and Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015). He lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia, after retiring from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

 

Traveling West

At five days out the car swelters,
the mind congests,
sisters and brothers squirm like eels
in the endless Midwest heat,

and there is nothing beyond
this vinyl seat, nothing but Dante,
a descent, the coming years
of Sartrean emptiness,

and then the plain rises;
the horizon, a bar across time,
a sea without shores, suddenly
grows bumps and edges,

and the old Dodge wagon breaks
out of the corn fields, up from
the Platte, sandhill cranes
scattering like moon-lifted twigs,

to the sudden split of earth and sky,
then, the Rockies, snow late in June
frosts immoveable heads, the dark
outline of their broad shoulders

growing to meet us, to bless
the future emptiness, years spent
on deserts and trackless coastlines,
the boy embossed with high,

indelible rockfaces and thinning air,
incorporated into his spine, this ladder
of his bones, the emptiness of all futures,
now, and then, filled.

 

Peach Tree

That the dance is known by the dancing,
and the lasagna is realized by eating it.
– Jack Gilbert, “Not Easily”

When the poet was asked his reasons,
he gave them a slice of peach
just then separated from the pit or seed,
that began a discussion of Eliot’s phrase
Do I dare?, and, Do I dare?,
and of death, an immediate surprise
for the young in the room, and perhaps
rude if you think of all the time
spent preparing for the unpreparable;
and yet, that line of thought, the peach
pit as the center of time, and the poet
circling it like a star, without regret, his
invisibility, were answers to the question,
in a way, the reason, as nothing is simply
dead when it can still be eaten.

 

Climbing Longs Peak

Our feet scramble up
steep loose rock, the air
thins like paper aged
in deserts, and the light
compliments the climb
by hosting lanterns
of clouds among pine,

and I recall her skirt
long and wool, her
crumpled hat, her
determination, breathing
quiet as a deer, frozen
in the moment
as I am now.

The far top looming,
a boulder field, and rumor
of an eagle pit, the highest
point forever, as the eye
sees, the eagles once
diving to snag the rabbit
skin on the woven
pit cover.

I remember her
remembering cloud cover,
the timely descent, lunch
by noon and “get off,”
lightning standing
your hair on end.

She died when I
was still in college.
Absorbed in something
my legs muscles
could not interpret,
the dawns could not
greet, something
of living forever,
the mistake
young men make.

Now climbing
at her age, a hunger
consumes me. The light
cannot be the same
but is, the elements are
congratulatory.

The way we climb
cannot be captured in a
look, a stance, resting
on a rock. She would
unfold the hundred years
before I was around
like an orange, a golden
globe carried to new
heights.