“THERE’S NO THROUGH TRAIL” —HAN-SHAN, TRANSLATED BY GARY SNYDER
/ Orionid

Orionid

by Marybeth Holleman

Mount Lemmon, Arizona, 1986

Sparks from Halley’s Comet
in the black hole of a predawn sky
revive the chars of memory
when I was happy atop a mountain
in the desert, when you and I
were young and together
believed the world lay before us.
The caretaker with more wine
than he alone could drink
ushered us into the globe rooms
that perched on the mountain
like tethered moons,
showed us that streaming light
from far away so close 
my fingers tingled with imagined 
touch. We knew then
the importance of light, knew
this was our one lifetime’s chance,
as we followed faint yellow strips 
back down switchbacks 
through spruce to saguaro, 
from snow to sand,
we knew what mattered.
But what we didn’t know, 
even as we watched 
the comet’s ephemeral light,
tail always chasing after,
was how to hold on.

Marybeth Holleman

About Marybeth Holleman

Marybeth Holleman was raised in North Carolina’s Smokies and transplanted to Alaska’s Chugach Mountains after falling head over heels for Prince William Sound just two years before the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She’s author of The Heart of the Sound and Among Wolves, and co-editor Crosscurrents North, among others. Her first poetry collection, tender gravity, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Pushcart-prize nominee and finalist for the Siskiyou Prize, she’s published in venues including Orion, Christian Science Monitor, Sierra, Literary Mama, ISLE/OUP, North American Review, AQR, zoomorphic, Minding Nature, The Guardian, The Future of Nature, and on NPR. www.marybethholleman.com

Cold Mountain Review is published once a year in the Department of English at Appalachian State University. Support from Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences enables CMR’s learning and publications program. The views and opinions expressed in CMR do not necessarily reflect those of university trustees, administration, faculty, students, or staff.