Sitting under a mountain
Three peaks: the host and two guests.
A way to art where images were drawn
after the shape of words for things.
Let’s call the guests Shan and Mu.
They wandered twelve miles, their host
shrunk with each mile, even they grew
smaller till a human could climb them
without a rope. They got green, waited.
On the other side of the water two women
lay down together and the plague spread
its blanket over them. Their names were pulled
from their mouths by the one who found them
and carried on the shoulders of children
to the place where Shan and Mu sat,
leafy and waiting for their host to retrieve
them. The people planted the names
and in a few seasons the names grew
into the hills and out toward the sun
like a character for a tree, or a man
buried to his waist and left to die
for stealing someone’s name
and taking it so far from their bones.
And the mountains tried on their new names
and the sound of syllables and that it
took twice as long to say a dead woman’s
name as it used to take to measure
three mountains and that was good
and to this day nobody will build
a house on the summits or
cut down a tree at the crown.