By Peter Halstead

Mountain summits are like restaurants:
Restrained and silent nonchalance
Hopefully informs the dinette
Or the floral plastic set
Against the infinite abyss
Of the linen’s folded precipice:
Given any less atmosphere,
Tasteful life (at least) must disappear,
As a shortage of specific breadth
Is, I think, designer death—
Although some mountain madness hints
At a stranger sort of ambiance—
An air that’s something of a paradox,
Equating glamour as it does with rocks,
Confident that all one needs to see
To feel at home is scree
(A flowery cook’s poetic babble
For what his customers call gravel),
But nonetheless the fingerprints
Whose glory lies in fingers’ absence,
The smudges of a kleptomaniac
Whose sole allure lies in his lack
Of presence, who’s only here, like air,
When it looks as if he isn’t there,
A state of mind where earth
Is celebrated mainly for its dearth,
Where the world seems finally okay
Because the dirty ground is far away,
And where, to call a bird’s attention
To a blossom’s culinary invention,
All the forces of bad weather
Must pull their sullen selves together
And focus galaxies of champagne
On a rather meaningless moraine:
Air and water, earth and fire
Must somehow manage to conspire
(Before the chef gets any duller)
And decorate the room with blooming color—
All the meteors in the sky must shower
If they want to make a flower.