» Poetry

I Wake at Four & Drive to the Mountains

To leave the inner critic on the empty street beneath my windows.

To outride the arrows, or slings at least, of civic life.

To put the forces separating me from my daughter—the moderator

 in elastic-waisted slacks, the decree signed

 by the liver-spotted judge—in the rear-view.

To look ahead and see the world’s impersonal love song again

 lifted from night.

To know the song is about the attention we give the wild,

 unfixable everything we love yet is always already

 indifferent to us.

And yet to see the sun rise, like a couched friend, from blankets of fog

 in the lowland orchards.

To see the fields of our anxieties cut and gathered in silos.

To hear the wind wrap us, undeserving, in the sun’s resolve

 to sustain us another day.


To stuff a campsite into my backpack and somehow walk ten miles.

To feel the weight of our basic needs shouldered across streams,

 over hills, up crevices.

To remember having walked the home-forsaken trail before.

To realize I’d compressed memory of all this pain—all but the sacrament

 of red, gold and orange leaves

 above river bluffs.


Only here do I realize I must have forgotten just how many uphills,

 just how fucking much elevation hurts.

Here I think such thoughts as our sapiens ancestors ground as many miles

 over mountains each day.

I wake and drive and walk to think: Perhaps the downhill mortar and pestle

 of our patellae almost crushes recall

 of profane elevation.

And to meet the inner critic, somehow already at the top, and

 to accept his message:

You wake at four and drive to the mountains

to accept the body’s pain as the cost of all the beauty there is to see.


Marcus Myers

Marcus Myers lives in Kansas City, where he works as an adviser to high school gifted and talented students, teaches composition to high school seniors and undergraduates, and serves as a founding co-editor of Bear Review. His writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Common, The Cortland Review, Hunger Mountain, The Laurel Review, Mid-American Review, The National Poetry Review, Pleiades, Rhino, Salt Hill, Tar River Poetry, Typo, and elsewhere.