Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NAVIGATION, by JAMES GALVIN

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First Line: Evergreens have reasons
Subject(s): Language; Mountains; Mouths; Nature; Navigation; Sky; Trees; Words; Vocabulary; Hills; Downs (great Britain)

Evergreens have reasons
For stopping where they do,
At timberline or the clean edge
Of sage and prairie grass.
There are quantities of wind
They know they cannot cross.

They come down from the tundra
On waves of ridges and stop,
Staring out over open country,
Like pilgrims on the shore
Of an unexpected ocean.
The sky is still the sky, they know;
It won't understand ordinary language.

Meet my mother, twice removed,
Who could tell the time from stars.
She said everything is its own reward,
Grief, poverty, the last word.
Evening was her favorite time
And she walked along the shore of trees,
Carrying herself as if afraid
She might give herself away.
She called this being quiet.

Just inside the treeline, out of the wind,
Father built a handrail along the path.
She'd stand there like a sailor's wife
And stare at the high plains as dark came on.
She said mountains might be islands
But the sky is still the sky.

She'd wait for the ranch lights
On the prairie to come out
Like a fallen constellation.
She said waiting is its own reward,
The lights are only reasons.

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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