Burning Sky

Parable for Vanished Countries

BY PETER BALAKIAN   [with thanks to the author]


The mountain was close.
Far. Then closer.
Rivulets of light ran across it.

Lakes were white circles,
then canyons,
then empty eyes.

The sky was a field of burning stones.
It was neither day nor night.
It was jasmine, and fires went out

over my head. The closer I got,

the farther it was.
Rivers pooled like green wax,

and the orchards and vineyards
on its flanks flared
like the wings of a scarlet tanager.

The trees glared like shepherds’ crooks
in the brass light; crows roosted on them,
and the mountain rose into the sky,

until it was a cloud
shimmering in black air.

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