This is taking place in the presence of a mountain,
before the sheep-cropped dungy grass between
exposed ridges that makes the rock look threadbare,
the mountain bony, a mendicant in rags.
Follow my finger up to the resting places
of the mountain, the deep grooves still glacial,
still missing their smock of ice. Nakedness
in rags, the bones of a thing in rags, unwilling
to plead. But there can be no resting place
for the weather moving over the mountain.
Clouds reflexively turn their faces from the summit,
saying it is to be watched with an averted gaze―
spectacle of a queen turned beggar with no domain.
How does a mountain occur to you? How can it?
I cannot ask you to reach and touch it, or rather
I can but your hand won’t find it. You can come looking
and still not find it and yet it’s present.
How can it not be now that I’ve said the name?
A mountain happens to you while its strata stay put:
it is slipping forever under your thought, remaining
and remaining while you can’t help but move
through time and space like a leaf unleashed from its tree.
The mountain is not your home should you hope it might be
or fear it might be. It is home to nobody and owes nothing.
Whatever is unwanted or unloveable in you,
or too wanted and too loveable, would soon die
of exposure if left out on its high ledges,
and so your heart quickly climbs and descends it,
leaving a girl-child, a sickly elder there.
(first published in Archipelago and subsequently in My Moriarty)
Nichola Deane (@nicholadeane) was born in Bolton in 1973, and was educated at the Universities of St Andrews and Manchester. Her work has been published in a number of magazines, including Poetry London, Archipelago and The Rialto. Her pamphlet, My Moriarty, which won the Flarestack Poetry Pamphlet Prize 2012, was also PBS Pamphlet Choice for Winter 2012.