Climbing Mont Ventoux, Provence


I was led down the forested lanes, the needles crushing

Under a smoke-blue sky, to a cave wet and ancient

With Roman waters tickling from the tops of a collapsed aqueduct

And the Roman foot I could feel on top of mine

Leading me to the colliding rock-falls of canyons

And the secret water-smelling flies of the hot country

Who had come here to this tight canyon

To copulate in the cool and shade; each foot-fall

Drove them up like dust in battering rain, the smell

Of damp and rot and of new deaths and new births;

A fly landed on my hand and crapped a pile

Of worms; a fly nuzzled in my ear; a thousand flies

Turned and rubbed their wings and front feelers

Making a low hum as if an engine were working

Remotely under the earth, and echoing through a thousand

Chambers till at last to the surface a mere echo of echoes

Reverberating as enormous as sky or like the light from stars

Or like still the moving moon that paces with a car

Delighting and subduing children to quiet and wondering

Why the moon stands still but chases through the stars.


                                                                                                -Christopher Ketcham