A slow sinking gravity
settles into me in these deflated lands
far from hills and mountains—

these roads without switchbacks
or even proper curves, their ungraded terrain
leaves me empty with its flatness

and I think about flatness:
in French, plat; sounds like Platonic—
an absence of passion and dimension,
the wrongness of something deflated.
Old soda, injured tires,
a note sung off-key—
a state of no contrasts and contours,
or the perfumed air
existing only in high places.

When I drive on the Mohawk trail,
it’s a sort of sex—car and road
on full alert, breathing in rhythm
to the changing scenery.
A shift from two to three dimensions;
a falling, lurching into something
like love.

My senses can’t sleep
as this topographic music
approaches its peak, temperature dropping
degree by degree—the slow towns and farms
all passed far behind me; inclines shifting
as my car swerves like a pinball on its curves.
The Cold River’s ominous congress
through rocks, deafening—
reminding me that this road
is dangerous, and people die on it.

And when I reach the summit,
there’s a feeling almost like sadness
just for a moment—because I can see the world
stretched around me, and I’m not used to this.

After Florida’s boarded-up motels
and the golden elk guiding me through bare sky,
the hairpin turn sign: anticipation building,
and it’s so good—
this sight of mountains and their shadows,
towering in all directions, almost violent
in its nonchalant splendor—
this helpless slowing into a kind of climax,
pleasure beyond planning and recall.

How can I return to flat places after this?
I can only climb higher. I build my houses on cliffs,
growing cloven hoofs and a taste for silence
and short spruces. I ascend from the lands
of two dimensions into the contoured kingdoms;
these demanding worlds of clouds and echoed light.

© Psyche Marks 2017

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