Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ABOVE HALF MOON, by JAMES GALVIN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ABOVE HALF MOON, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Not even a brid can sleep in thin air, a thousand feet higher
Last Line: Shuttered windows, a flower made of timber, whose trail down is a crooked stem
Subject(s): Moon; Mountains; Hills; Downs (great Britain)

Not even a bird can sleep in thin air, a thousand feet higher than the highest
trees on Half Moon Pass, where summer lasts a month or less, and the rest is
just high wind and low clouds, like now, a landscape removed to the sky. Even
the snow can't stand it here, it jumps at the first breeze and feathers down to
the timber.

A single drift, a crescent, naps in the lee of the cabin. Whoever built this
claim a hundred years ago must have been a lunatic, or driven. He chipped out
his mineshaft, one man's monument to hard luck, an obelisk of air pointing
straight down. Maybe he counted on Holy Cross Mountain for grace. Maybe he
just liked being alone in the sky.

The logs still show where his adze bit in. He fitted them with broad axe and
bucksaw, and pegged them together the way they used to make the hulls of ships,
but this was built with wind in mind and too much empty sky around. The walls
are double, pinestraw in between: a house inside a house with double-shuttered
windows, a flower made of timber, whose trail down is a crooked stem.

How he hauled his timber up the talus slope, a mile of switchbacks, was, I'd
guess, a mule. He hauled the logs a log at a time. Who knows how he got that
woodstove home, or what he thought of moonless nights awash in stars, or if the
kerosene light seemed cold and far away. He must have hauled his firewood too,
and melted snow sometimes for water.

I guess there was no place to go from here. The door opens on a view of the
mountain when the weather is clear or the clouds are down below. The lake below
the mountain is called The Bowl of Tears. I don't know, maybe he was crazy and
wanted to be rich. Maybe he wanted to be alone with God. You can see where he
nailed tin cans hammered flat and old boot soles over the cracks in the door.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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