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A Poem: The Catskills in Winter 

Exit Lowe’s and there they are, bluntly notching
the horizon: thickset and muscular. It’s that
squat solidity that tugs at my eyes and brings me
to a standstill. It makes me want to be Cezanne
in late life, off in a corner of the parking lot
studying the hunched contours the cold’s exposed,
slabbing pigments wintry as smoky quartz on canvas.
Shoppers pushing their piled carts would barely
notice me, such a fixture I’d become, cloudy days
and sunny days, high on core geometries,
forging a new way to see depth within the limits
of my means. But I am myself, and stamping
to unfreeze my feet, I recall the history of this
place: the Catskills are the site of an ancient inland
sea, the ferns along its shore once tall as trees.
How deep, I wonder, where a frozen lake
of asphalt now lets us walk? Cezanne, perched
across from Mont Sainte-Victoire, knew
the latest theories of earth’s great shifts—
or so I’ve read: the true source, I like to believe,
of his fever to nail the eternal in that mountain.
Winter works a forever-kind-of-look on the Catskills
which belies their transience. I could gaze at them
all day. Drivers’ nudging patience with my distraction
hints at sympathy as if they understand one can not
always be thinking of batteries and rock salt,
or where one parked one’s car.

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  • A poem by Anne Richey.

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