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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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These conversations spread over days,

     a river of

exploration and remembrance,

     sometimes whirling us forwards

               spume in our faces,

widening sometimes into lakes

     still

               above the down-swept reeds

the little fishes passed among.

Once I said,

“But you’re going back.”

He just nodded.

“In spite of the books and music.

     Or lack thereof.”

“Yup. Can’t rope a whole lot of calves here

     in San Francisco.”

“So, your manly pose isn’t entirely misleading?”

“Not entirely. I like the ranch life. Just

     not to the exclusion

     of everything else. And anyway,

     you can’t leave Montana.”

“You’ve been in the Sierras,” I said,

     “haven’t you?”

“You bet. On leave, camping. Beautiful country.

     You too?”

“Me too.” And then I said, “I think

     I need mountains to breathe.”

“So. You see?”

“Are they like the Sierras?” I asked. “The Rockies?”

He didn’t quite squirm but looked like he wanted to,

like a guy being asked

     why he believes in God.

“No. There’s more space, somehow,

     wider valleys.”

I waited. “Tell me.”

This time he squirmed for sure, tried several times and finally

     came up with this: “The Sierras feel cramped.”

To which I could only say, “Huh?”

“Like if you take a deep breath, your elbows

     might bump up against the next mountain. All right,

     all right, I know that sounds strange.”

“I’m sorry, please, try again? I promise

     I won’t laugh.”

Slowly, he shook his head. “Nope.

     I daren’t try.

     You’ll have to come see

               for yourself.”

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