Thursday, August 30, 2007
THE MIST ON THE MOUNTAIN
Through the night mist on the mountain
I see far away a light in a farmhouse window on the plain,
the mist mellowing it until it grows yellow
as the kerosene lamp of my boyhood
by which I first studied, the lamp of a home far away in the mist.
I travel down the rays like a homing insect
beating the moth wings of thought until
I stand by a drab house at the edge of town.
Peering in, as though through time, at a little window
at the oilcloth table,
at my mother, my father, at myself
a child of five, reading a primer,
mouthing the letters.
Time, why did you run? Where is the polished brass lamp
where is the warm stove with the isinglass windows
by which we dressed in the cold mornings,
where is the old frame bed in which I huddled
with warm bricks at my feet?
Where are even the words of that time, some lost,
no longer spoken by living men?
Father, mother, take me back even though life was harsh
in the small kitchen.
Who would have dreamed
the universe so large?
Can there not be a miniature time? Some place where one stays
forever at the kitchen table,
on the same page of one's book,
with one's parents looking on,
an old photograph perhaps,
but that would have faded.
We would not truly be there.
Through the night mist on the mountain I put out my hands
but the light is gone, a fog is descending.
I do not recognize this alien grown-up body.
I will not recognize it ever.
I am there, there, in the yellow light in the kitchen,
reading on the stained oilcloth.
We are all there. I did not grow up.
I have rushed like a moth through time
toward the light in the kitchen.
I am safe now. I never grew up.
I am no longer lost here in the mist on the mountain.
--Loren C. Eiseley