Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Jose Padua: Interview with the Mountain

When I first came to interview the mountain
it said the hour was late, that it was too tired,
that it doubted it had anything of significance
to say, anything worthy of putting in print. The
second time, it said it didn’t trust me, that I was
a foreigner who would never understand its ways,
who had his own agenda that would make the rivers,
the oceans, even the deer and wild cats seem more
important than they really were, and less vindictive,
and more fun. The third time we sat and stared
at each other. I had brought along my lunch and
I bit into my sandwich and sipped my iced tea
as the mountain looked at me in silence, refusing
to eat. The fourth time I brought a friend who drank
whiskey and played songs on his violin, who asked
the mountain what he thought about the moon
and the mountain just said that it didn’t think
about the moon and that it thought about the moon
as often as it thought about us. The fifth time I
brought a book which I read silently to myself
while the mountain slept until well past noon
when it said that it didn’t believe the seasons
were real, that changes in temperature, the drifting
snow, and the turning of the leaves were created
by men and women living in cities who had never
even seen a mountain. The sixth time I took my wife
and my daughter, and my daughter ran around
chasing butterflies while my wife and I breathed
in deeply, looking up at the blue of the sky imagining
the shapes of animals, and not once did we try
to speak to the mountain and not once did we
look at it. The seventh time I climbed slowly
to the top and back down again with my eyes closed,
waiting for the mountain to speak, finally, to say
something about its past. How it’s not as tall
as it once was, how none of us are growing,
how nothing in this world grows for very long,
and how the rivers betrayed him, and the oceans
shifted their weight and went to sleep without
thinking of rescuing him and without showing him
how to swim or build a boat. And how the animals
never taught him how to find cover or how to protect
himself, and why it serves no purpose for man
or moon or bird or flower for a mountain to speak
when everything around him is falling. Then
in the early morning as the shadows took quick
steps toward the city, I left and came back
with a knife and fork and I ate the mountain,
breaking him apart into sand and rocks, gnawing
on the pieces with my monstrous teeth, eating
until I was full, until the mountain was all gone
because I live in the country now, and no longer
have the voices of the city or the cries of sirens
echoing down dark streets, or words of lesser
wisdom to hold me back, and I love the slower
pace of life here, and the way flowers in their
season take all the time they need to blossom.

Copyright 2015 Jose Padua


— photograph by Jose Padua

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This entry was posted on October 5, 2015 by in Environmentalism, Poetry and tagged , .

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