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Northwest Passage

Grey skies transport me.
Let it be cool, damp, nearly misty,
I am in my element—
Enveloped, secure, and natural.

Heavy clouds above,
Eyes wide open in dim light,
I absorb muted shades of green,
Blue-grey tones, soft boundaries.

A finite world,
Quiet and intimate,
The smell of bark and leaves,
Wet grass, and musty earth.

From a fascination with
The cartography of a pebble,
The primeval fabric of moss,
The lives of insects under leaves,

To the revelation of the sun!
The extravagant brilliance, the breathtaking clarity,
The deepness of resolve
Of the light of the inland sea’s sun.

Then, the sharp, sweet,
Seductive scent of the pine;
The chiseled, sharp, stark rocks,
Deep green between—

The sky so blue you cry,
So impossible it is to fathom.
Spending hours striving to gather it in,
Yearning to embrace the shimmer,

Frantic to make the light mine,
The air of me, the dryness permeate;
Frantic to fill an unquenchable longing
With a brilliance which is not peace.

“Quel pur tavail de fines éclairs consume
Maint diamants d’imperceptible écume,
Et quelle paix semble se concevoir!
Quand sur l’abime un soleil se repose.” *
What a pure work of infinite points, sparkling
Diamonds, fashion the imperceptible foam,
And what peace seems to be created!
When on the abyss a sun sets. *

I return to the Clouds—
A grey, rained day,
Cold mists thickening into sky.
I am home, at peace, at one again with the light.

* Excerpt from Paul Valéry, Translation by the Author

--Kristine Switt