In these mountains it's a ghost, the wind.
How did it end on earth?
Some avalanche of snow, or drought—
No. It died in its bed
like those in the vestibule of hell
whose sin was being small of heart,
undecided. Deeper down, there's a circle
for greed and gluttony. The old cat howls for
water, for food, more so—in its twenty years,
it has only learned to be more so. Can I
be saved from such intensity or should I pray
for it. Good deeds replace faith—and in
their absence, wind. The plucked dry and scentless
wild mint, the yarrow brittle and colorless.
Not even white. Less so. A photograph
of myself at one, standing crazed in my crib,
clinging to its bars with one wide eye larger
than the other, more so. My mother's fear
and my father's stubbornness. The cat's clinging,
charming in youth, now a nuisance on wobbly
legs. Always the disproportion, pressing toward
something, somewhere, or being pushed.
Perhaps even the apex is willed. Rare
and troublesome winds are named: föhn, sirocco,
harmattan. The people who live with them
get headaches, ions drawing out every last
reserve of sanity. Mouthfuls of sand.
At thirty knots, umbrellas are destroyed,
a body's airborne at one hundred. Plagues
of locusts, monsoons, catastrophic Coriolis
force. Our daily mountain-valley wind moves
only as fast as I can run, aspens
shiver in its ten-knot thrall. It's no excuse
for bad behavior. Cool and warm, climb and dip,
sunrise and sunset swapping sides, its rhythms
are like tides. And any sound caught
is mangled or disappears—