The Story of the Mountain

Maggie Smith Click to

Maggie Smith is the author of Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005) and The List of Dangers (Kent State University Press, 2010). She has received fellowships from the NEA, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives in Bexley, Ohio, and works as a freelance writer and editor.

Home is not what the woman
had imagined. Late fall, the fields

are cropped to stubble, the mountain
already rust and smoke. The trees

must have flamed here but she’s
too late. The man has threaded himself

through the trees on their best
black horse, and a hawk has dropped

its shadow on the child and won’t
lift it away. The girl is learning to read

the world, and every turned page
reveals something peculiar, wholly new.

In the story of the mountain, the trees
burn for as long as they can bear it,

the horizon blurs and wobbles
like a heat mirage. The woman

doesn’t know how the story ends.
Like the mountain, it has a shape,

but she’s too close to see it whole.