How to Love a Mountain
You have chosen one. But understand it comes with a family. Your mountain does not like to be
alone. Is an inky incantation who mirrors another. Reveals only part of the whole. Is rooted deep
and again by half. Every morning and every night and especially during the longest day.
You sit in its bruised light. Think about how it all began in the searing heart of ideas that flare
salt and ash until it floats and rises above the pit. You remember the time the lava within revolted
against that greatest worrier: gravity, which wants to pull everything down and down again.
Your mountain warns everything in its way. Now it is uncapped. Uncorked. Top blown, it flows
up and over itself again and again. Gaining momentum, layers upon layers rise to stand on four
legs and plunge into your depths and dreams. You wait for a time when it is quiet with itself.
When you are ready, you paint it. Find a sturdy surface worthy of its fugue certainty. Scrape
aluminum and gold out from the veins with your chapped hands. You make your own ink, China
black blended with your tears and laughter, scented with the burning of pitch and adventure.
When you are ready, you sing it. Songs made fragrant by suspended chords and major descant,
echoing down from the summit like bells ringing in the cathedral. You will believe every last
note. Eat each syllable and spit out the gleaming shells.
You will remember a time before any of them. Before the war. Before the stars broke their
promises. When the only thing longed for was the sky made white by wings. The thing about
loving your mountain is that, just like that, I no longer miss you.
Maybe, someday, I will even forget you.
Susan Thurston is a writer, educator, and professional communicator whose work has been published frequently, including in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Los Angeles Review, Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, Minnesota Monthly, Fox Cry Review, Rag Mag; several anthologies including Open to Interpretation: At Water’s Edge (Taylor & O’Neill, 2012), Low Down and Coming On (Red Dragonfly Press, 2010), Tremors Vibrations Enough to Rearrange the World (Heywood Press, 1995); and the chapbook Wild Bone Season (Heywood Press, 1996). Her novel Sister of Grendel was published by The Black Hat Press in 2016. She co-authored Cooking-Up the Good Life (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) with local-food movement leader Chef Jenny Breen. As part of earning her master’s degree from Hamline University, she spent time exploring the influence of gender on the creative process with the game-changing writers Carol Bly, Patricia Hampl, and Meridel Le Sueur.