(inspired by a roadside stop in Colorado)
It was many years ago that
she sat beside the Shoon River.
The mountains surrounded her, while
many tall pine trees shaded her.
The sun, visible through the trees,
flickered brightly, warming of soft
blanket of moss at the edge of
the ravine. The musty smell of
wet wood encircled her.
As she gazed up at the pine- filled
mountain in front of her, it cried
with her; water trickled down deep
crevices in the Earth, between
the furry pines –so many years.
A gentle wind dried her tears, though
there remained a heaviness in
her heart and a lump in her throat
that just would never go away.
She unbraided her long black hair,
as she ran her fingers through it.
The wind caressed her hair softly,
like that of a gentle lover.
She stooped and gingerly removed
her necklace and bracelet, but had
promised never to remove the
turquoise ring on her left finger.
She stepped out of her moccasins
and stood up, feeling the warmth of
shimmering sunshine on her face:
“Oh mountain! You are beautiful!
I wish my arms were long enough
to hold you — you see me as I
really am. I have come to you
in my happiness, and also
when I was troubled or worried.
Today, I stand before you in
sorrow and despair. But today,
dear mountain, I will not leave you.”
She sprung forward towards the mountain
and felt a lightness in her feet
as she dropped from the moss laden
cliff to the to the river far below.
She felt a blow to her body,
and a coldness and numbness to
her face and head. The sun was gone…
* * *
Today I stand here at the same
mountain while the wind caress’s
my short auburn hair, as would a
gentle lover. I now remove
my high heels and feel the soft bed
of moss beneath my feet, The wind
and sunshine dry my tear-stained face.
Tears not of despair, but tears of
remembering a lovely but
despondent Indian maiden
whose life ended at this mountain.
Or did it? Her last words echo
in the breeze, the mountain tears are
no more, and the river has long
since dried up. Only the pines and
an unclear legend have remained.
But is that really all? Perhaps.
Perhaps not. I look down at the
turquoise ring I am wearing, a
ring I have promised never
to remove — and smile.
Spirits Magazine 2006
Artwork: Artist unknown
**The above printed poem is copyrighted, is registered with the Library of Congress and is the property of Sharon Palmeri. Permission is needed before use. Thank you! **