A car from far away makes a hushed noise on the blacktop, hums
its way towards the house then passes. All remnants of its presence
disappear— the rattle of its loose muffler, radio blaring bad news,
the whine of its transmission as it mounts the heavy grade, rides
towards the summit. It climbs the mountain road, cautiously entering
the fog that clings this morning. Switchbacks move the car forward
then back, each time the elevation increasing. It travels the body
of the mountain, concealing miles traveled at each turn, the journey
always the small length of road ahead. At the summit, the car breaks
through shrouds of gray. Sunlight transfigures pine stands, birch woods;
stone wavers in a sea of light. Mica is on fire. In the hollows of empty
places flowers bloom, bird songs untie the silence. Radiance with its perfume
is everywhere. No one would question her reasons for stopping. Creation
ignites the air; wind trembles the trees as if they too had seen some vision.
Might have been wiser for her not to have stopped, wiser for her to shelter
her eyes from such splendor. She must return home on that same road, visions
fresh in her mind, will spend a lifetime mining words to relive the moment. From
her deepest sleep she will be awakened with longings— they will steal her away.
Gladys Henderson’s poems are widely published. She was named Walt Whitman Birthplace Poet of the Year in 2010, and was chosen as the Poet Laureate of Suffolk County 2017-2019. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Eclipse of Heaven in 2009.