FIGURE AND GROUND

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  • Each pane of the old window
  • framed a different crag of the range.
  • On the days when she was there to see them
  • she knew he was somewhere on one or another,
  • too far to see or hear, yet she saw
  • his scarlet parka marking his location
  • sharply against the snow,
  • saw him kicking spiked boot toes into a wall of ice,
  • saw his long legs pistoning him over a crevasse,
  • heard him jangling his gear and tackle, laughing.
  • The mountains were magnificent, jagged,
  • torn from the earth too recently for softness –
  • an ungloved hand passed over them would be cut,
  • no matter how gentle its intent.
  • The Sound lay broad and still
  • below the upthrust range, distancing its dangers
  • from where she stood, her brushes
  • smoothly revealing on gessoed paper
  • the perfection of water without menace,
  • tempering, balancing the peaks where he went,
  • an ice axe in each fist.
  • An eagle swept across the panes, taut wings wide,
  • storming the black-green firs that sentineled the house,
  • landing fast, claws first, on a high branch
  • next to a white-crowned head already there, just visible.
  • He walked across the garden, smiling,
  • a coiled hose over one bare, tanned shoulder.