I live only a stone's throw from Glacier National Park. I love to hike and explore the out of doors. I've been teaching creative writing at Flathead Valley Community College for 32 years, and I still like my job. I have six books of poems published. My seventh book, Or Maybe I Drift Off Alone, is looking for a publisher.
After Second Shift
She’s stopped to shop for groceries.
Her snow boots sloshing
up and down the aisles, the store
deserted: couple stock boys
droning through cases of canned goods,
one sleepy checker at the till.
In the parking lot, an elderly man
stands mumbling outside his sedan,
all four doors wide to gusting sleet
and ice. She asks him, Are you okay?
He’s wearing pajama pants, torn slippers,
rumpled sport coat, knit wool hat.
Says he’s waiting for his wife.
I just talked to her on the payphone
over there. He’s pointing at
the Coke machine. What payphone?
she says. That one, he says.
It’s cold, she says, and escorts him inside.
Don’t come with lights
and sirens, she tells the 911
dispatcher. You’ll scare him.
They stand together. The checker
brings him a cup of coffee.
They talk about the snow.
So much snow.
They watch for the cop.
This night, black as any night,
or a bit less so.
A passing glacier carved these stone spires
and mounded these humpbacked foothills of scree.
Enough ice can chisel granite. Think about it,
Jeff says, shouting it, breathless, couple switchbacks
above. I’m picking my way toward him
through boulders which must have shaken the sky
wide-eyed when each great weight came crashing.
We are trekking, this indelible day, to the top
of our lives, though neither of us would have guessed
the downhill side could be waiting so nearby. Jeff,
it should be documented here, is the blossom of sun
and starshine. I am an equal marvel, so are all creatures,
even you. Think about it. This planet born of hell-fire…
The two of us resting on a rock ledge, sharing
handfuls of walnuts and raisins, passing a canteen.
Clouds racing past so near we could almost hitch
a lift. Each of us en route to one summit or another.
The life-span of a gnat. Almost invisible. So small.
©2016 Lowell Jaeger