Can a man own a mountain?
Carve out the center and cart it away
to shopping malls and garden centers?
Can he haul it off to adjacent counties
and bordering states where people
won’t appreciate that their gravel made up a mountain?
This mountain . . . our mountain.
This land . . . our land.
What? I can’t make up a word?
One man can own a mountain and truck it away
in exchange for stuff from malls full of sullen children
who have never climbed a mountain.
One man can disfigure the landscape
and transform the view and there are no words for that.
This mountain was our mountain,
ten o’clock on our compass.
history and barometer and weather maker.
Deanville Mountain and the road that crossed it—
lined with trees tall enough
to support elaborate nests and birds of unblinking eye—
was a place for teenagers to find themselves in the dark.
A place where rumors were invented and secrets uncovered.
Too bad our mountain held such a rich lode.
Too bad about mining and ownership and the rumor
that didn’t travel far enough into the right hands
fast enough. Too bad about the gaping wound and the collapsing side
that I thankfully can’t see from my porch . . . yet
Too bad it was never ours.
My grandfather insisted that the mountain changed our climate.
Storm clouds moved around Deanville Mountain
like storms off the Pacific deflected by rugged coastline.
Rain would fall to the west or skirt the entire bulge
To head out over the lake.
It was a mountain to be reckoned with and perhaps
compensated us beyond our comprehension.
Perhaps we’ll now have more of the rain that a farmer
can never seem to get enough of.
(They’ll tell you all about that in the Central Valley.)
But the mountain isn’t grand anymore.