Poetry Friday: The Mountain

Jan 11, 2019

Flagstaff poet Ann Weiler Walka has nothing against skiers. But, she appreciates when they’re done for the day. She lives near the San Francisco Peaks and likes to imagine the mountain having a quiet night without any human interruption, enjoying the night sky and solitude. In this week’s installment of Poetry Friday, Walka reads ‘Wild Nights’ from her collection of Peaks poems.

The San Francisco Peaks
Credit Mark Thomas

My name is Ann Weiler Walka. I’ve lived in Flagstaff for decades now. And a few years ago I thought, ‘I should write some poems about the Peaks. They’re my neighbors’. I am lucky enough to have a partial view of that mountain from several windows in my house.

One thing about living by these lovely mountains, at certain times of year, is the traffic that comes from there, and into my mind the contrast between imagining those busy ski slopes and imagining the mountain after everyone’s gone home.

Flagstaff poet, Ann Weiler Walka
Credit Ann Weiler Walka

This poem is called ‘Wild Nights’

All January the Mountain shines like a bride,

a procession of cars coming down at four, skis

on racks, sunburned faces heading for a bar

before the rosy light washes over empty runs.

The buzz shrugged off, starlight polishes stony

folds, stipples the limbs of bristlecone pines,

the ruffled firs, skims the coats of foxes and

just-brushed imprints of the owl’s wings.

The boldest deer mice, the mothers, swim up

at the base of aspens, slipstitch their hopes

across the shadowed snow, and dive in, or lift

in unwilling flight, twisted in necessity’s noose.

Dreaming only of speed, the skiers sleep sealed

In heated rooms. Under a basalt outcropping

a bear dreams up the wild world, her breath

feathering the crevices, blessing the silence.

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at gillian.ferris@nau.edu.