There are mountains in Alabama,
which are probably really more like hills,
except to a girl growing up in Florida.
They rise tentatively over the cotton crop,
their slopes no steeper than the roofs of houses,
they rise barely above the treetops—
tentatively, but not apologetically—
they have been here for centuries—
they rise gently above the cotton and the corn,
above streets with names like Bumper Crop Lane
and Slaughter Road, above streets without shoulders,
Methodist churches and Baptist churches
and Korean churches, above grazing cattle,
I knew these mountains on horseback,
and their welcome sight when traveling by plane,
and slight ascent when by car.
there are fjords in Norway,
carved staunchly from water and ice,
they stand as if a law of the universe,
as if you are not below nor they above,
but everything around, and in its right place.
I gazed on these mountains from a rain-slick boat,
eating tea and waffles as if I
could never eat again.
there was a sense of belongingness here,
of rightness, looking to the rivers of snow,
I thought, this is a safe place,
a good place, things are okay here.
I took pictures of my tea
and felt right.
there are mountains in alaska.
surrounding a low valley
they tower like ancient
kings and queens
wearing crowns of snow.
down in that valley,
the cool valley
of flowers and grass,
a sparkling creek,
the faint ghost of white fang,
down in that valley i stood,
and i could hardly look at them,
the biggest things i'd ever seen
the three thoughts
all life is accumulation
and death decay--this
is the first thought,
and there is nothing wrong
with building a shrine to
yourself, especially if
no one else will.
but here is the second thought:
to accumulate is to decay the other,
to be alive is to take life,
to give life is to lose life,
to have energy is to lose matter,
to do is to destroy
the universe. some scales are
tipping and never
life and death are not
different. you are alive even as
your cells die. you are dying
even as you live.
the third thought:
just forget it.
Michelle Acker is a student of English at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a near-lifelong poet as well as an aspiring filmmaker.