Friday, January 22, 2016

Speaking in tongues

Mt. Hood Wilderness Near Ramona Falls

I went downhill then up the cinder cone past
quiescent Doug-fir, out of breath now, heart
beating loud enough to drown out the flame-
lit prayers of some Mexican men possessed by
the spirit on so early a Sunday in these woods.

A loose gathering under a canopy of painted
sawn wood and tarpaper; each man a picket-
post, planted in their God. Is it an immigrant’s
splintered glossolalia or a Pentecostal fire that
shakes them, loosening tongues of flame above
each head? I can’t quite hear. Like the Doug-fir
at the top I’m deaf and cold, my lungs burning,
mist pearling rain on my face. Yet despite the
chill, sap still rises, filling our limbs—the men,
trees, me—with the washed gold of the day.

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