Above: Canyon liveforever. Source: Wikimedia Commons (generic license)
Above: Snowy Mount Umunhum. Source: Wikimedia Commons (generic license)
You might never notice her, but there's a girl who lives up here
where icy winds, ungenerous soil, deluges and parching sun
offer mercy to no being.
So difficult is survival that few of the ground-dwelling creatures
whose ancestors long inhabited
this rock garden can afford even a passing thought for the dirty block tower over there.
For a just an instant, a generation or two back,
young men sat inside that historical monstrosity
and watched for Soviet bombers to arrive out of the sunset.
But thankfully Moscow soon got tired and everybody went home.
And before long the old order, more or less intact, was back
on the mountaintop.
The girl is still here, but as I said, you might never see her. That’s how she wants it.
The sky is big and the vista is captivating. The ants and low-growing plants aren't the first things you'll see.
Although it's an exposed place, the canyon liveforever blends right in.
Now that the Air Force is gone,
it’s mostly, mostly the rabbits, mice, lizards, and bugs
that scan the sky in fear
of predators: hawks, owls, who knows what else?
The girl sits here unobtrusively on the desolate moonscape
she lives as the canyon liveforever, an inch-tall succulent
whose fiery little blooms are tended by the hummers in the summers.
So she clings
to her hard-won purchase amid
sharp clastic rocks that were formed by the slow, violent clash
of tectonic plates, like, a billion years ago and then heaved up here.
On this day, as on so many before, the gale, the cold gale reaches
down into the jagged stones and buffets her. She doesn't budge.
Though it seems she has little going for her at first glance,
come June she can't hide the subtle glory of her blooms
nor how perfectly she is adapted to the rugged mountaintop.
If you take the time to look, you’ll behold Jessica for yourself.
But please don't startle her. Although she's not as delicate as she looks,
she has only survived up here for all these eons
by always looking out for bombers and predators.