Donald Platt

Inscription Rock

Bare winter woods
let me see the many
granite boulders strewn
there. Summer leaves had
hidden them. I’d thought
to forget for a
few hours that we live
in a pandemic.
Huge boulders remind
me of ancient Roman

My breath comes quicker,
shorter as the path
grows steeper. Somewhere
in the forest
a tiny bird cheeps
one thin high note.

I pass red
warning signs that
advise me to wear
a mask, keep six feet
away from other
hikers to prevent
from spreading. Today
there’s only one
other hiker
crazy enough
to climb nine hundred feet
to Inscription Rock
near the top of
Monument Mountain
in slippery new snow.

I follow upwards
her, his, or their
descending footprints
mixed with heart-shaped
deer tracks, all of which
the falling snow
is fast filling in.

Those knobby-treaded
deep-lugged soles might be
my dead brother’s
I’ll follow them
forever, wherever
they lead.

The only sound is
my boots crunching through
snow on top of dead
oak leaves. It’s as if
I’m walking on
bubble wrap muffled
in white wool blankets.
A quiet minefield.

Pine branches droop
with the year’s first snow
as if bowing to
someone greater than
themselves. They drop
cold snow between my
scarf and warm neck.

I walk up steps cut
into the rock. When
I reach the top,
the panoramic
degree view, where
I might see Mt. Greylock
fifty miles north,
is whited out
with slowly
falling snow.

Whatever words
the stonecutter carved
into Inscription Rock
have vanished. All
the boulders are scrawled
with snow and
illegible lichen.

What is written on
these rocks?
                          I want to
know their rocky
credo. I would
believe in granite.
A student of mine
once wrote that no one
wants to be taken
for granite. She meant
for granted. I would be
taken for granite,
rock that can’t be moved,
stirred, washed away
by rain’s hectic
rhetoric or snow’s
avenging avalanche.



Donald Platt’s seventh book, One Illuminated Letter of Being, was published this fall by Red Mountain Press. His other books include Man Praying (Parlor Press / Free Verse Editions, 2017), Tornadoesque (CavanKerry Press’s Notable Voices series, 2016), Dirt Angels (New Issues Press, 2009), My Father Says Grace (University of Arkansas Press, 2007), and Cloud Atlas and Fresh Peaches, Fireworks, & Guns (both from Purdue University Press and published respectively in 2002 and 1994). He is a recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1996 and 2011). Currently he is a professor of English at Purdue University and teaches in its MFA program.