Driving Through the Irish Mountains

I do not care to travel much. It’s not
So much that I don’t like to see the sights
And feel the shock of fresh experience.
I do enjoy that rare experience,
But in my mind these things take time, and time
Is rare on trips like this. We rush so fast
From place to place that all we really see
Is our reflections on each other. We
Can only survey our environment:
The study is what we are learning of
Each other.

In this rush, the mountain view,
With all its waterfalls and windswept crags,
Is lost. It flies so fast and vasty green
That it can only hint at treasures far
Beneath. My inclination then is just
To run as quickly as I can — to hide
In some secluded, quiet place, far from
The maddening crowd, and hold me deathly still —
To mine for what is hidden, what is real.

I often fail to find it, whizzing down
The mountain roads, but always there’s a hint
Of something beautiful: the way the pubs
All close at ten, or how the Irishman
Says, “now,” to mean a process is complete;
The sight of all the hills denuded of
Their trees and filled instead with sheep.

The sight
Of barebacked mountains has a holy feel
To someone raised on tufts of grass and clouds
Of dust that stretch beyond the skyline. Plains,
They call them, furling out another world
Away, and furling always in my heart
And mind.

And so it always shocks me, when
I see variety. It feels just like
My first time driving through a city filled
With trees: The things amazed me, how in just
A little time abandoned plots could be
Transformed into a checkered wood, and grow
So thick and lush with pines and firs and vines
Of every species. Trees were everywhere,
And every angle that I looked, it seemed
So deep and rich, enfolding you into
The trees, the way a mother holds her child.

But once a little time had passed, the trees
Grew old on me. Eventually I longed
To see the sky again. I have no way
To tell the sense I have for going home:
Again to feel the Oklahoma wind
And gaze into a great big Sky.

And this
Is how I come again upon this row
Of mountains jutting up against the bus,
My window sometimes flecked by giant ferns
And grasping trees. The road seems almost out
Of place, so smooth and even is its keel.
The clouds are flowing rapidly, a breath,
It seems, above the humbled mountain peaks.

I like to think that from those points, my eyes
Could grace a hundred valleys rolling far
Beneath, and see a thousand stone-walled fields,
Littered full of grazing sheep. I lift
My eyes, and looking up, I feel myself
Surrounded by the heavens: bits of home
Inside me, reaching out to every place.

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