Charles Rafferty


I've always thought landscape could mean
almost anything: the prairie
hugged by a distant storm could portend
tornadoes or the end of drought.
Afternoon snowfields on a mountain slope
could become a poster at the Moorestown Mall
or an avalanche bearing down
on all that is rigid and frail. Landscape
rises around us and we have our best
and worst moments, almost regardless of setting:
I have never been so in love
as when I crushed into a girl
behind a computer-parts warehouse,
except when I kissed another
on a moon-bright beach in Milford.
If landscape is important, it is because it provides
the audience and stage at once,
the obstacles we must topple or surmount
to balm whatever aches:
thirst in the desert, cold above treeline,
desolation in this grid of oak-encumbered streets.