— for Jennifer, who asked
by Sara Clancy
I’ve been up
with the wind, trying to write down
an explanation for this charmed
move. In Cheyenne the light is strange,
with no trees to shadow the beauty
of the prairie. The truth
is, Wyoming is hard to love and truth
demands recognition of its harshness. Up
on Jim Mountain, beauty
surrenders its solace and stares down
on the rest of us. We are strange
to this landscape, which has charmed
so few. We have been charmed
before and always, the truth
is hidden by expectation. Strange
how truth is exposed: a Coopers hawk glides up
to Elephant Rock, as the sky bears down
on this spare beauty.
In Issaquah, beauty
was simple, the forest charmed
by beads of rain, which came down
with the certainty of truth.
We all looked up
to Mount Rainier, that strange
volcano floating over Puget Sound. So strange,
like her sister Helen, whose beauty
soothed the landscape and then went up
in cinders. She charmed
us into inattention, then demanded truth
with a terrible insistence that rained down
in rock. Now the woods, downed
in ash, mock the flattery of strange
transients like us, who betray truth
by looking only for beauty,
for that charmed
acre to never give up.
Up on Medicine Wheel, Wyoming is downright charmed.
Strange how her beauty is a hard uncomfortable truth.
IMAGE: “Grand Tetons and the Snake River [Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming]” by Ansel Adams (1942).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As it turned out, we were dilettantes at Wyoming life, lasting less than two years. Though it is an unforgettable and truly beautiful state, it apparently takes heartier souls than ours to withstand those ever-present 30-mph winter winds along with temperatures in the teens. We are still looking for that charmed acre, though we would be content with something much smaller, …and warmer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Clancy is a Philadelphia transplant to the Desert Southwest. She is an Associate Editor for Poetry at Kentucky Review and, among other places, her poems have appeared in Off the Coast, The Linnet’s Wings, Avatar, Crab Creek Review, The Madison Review, Verse Wisconsin, Main Street Rag, Antiphon, and Houseboat, where she was a featured poet.