The Mountain Desert
– to Frederick
Faust, "Max Brand" (1892 - 1944)
You cared about this land when few
Knew where its aberrant canyons led,
Or guessed what hidden springs broke blue
Beneath the elk and deer it fed.
Here you were exiled finally, snared
By the very summits of your skill;
No one before or since has dared
Your output, and your books come still!
No penance purified your towns.
Counting their blessings, robbed and sold,
Young outlaws grinned at settler sounds;
Unappeased bankers massed their gold.
Between the affluence and the want,
Where thousands came and rebegan,
You struck your claim. Here you would haunt
And celebrate the common man.
You fanned his small insistent fire
With heir, black creek land, toil and fast,
A life propelled by raw desire,
A death he triumphed in at last.
Sun smolders in the upper peaks,
Leaking its glory from the spill;
Once more your simple ethic speaks
Across these mesas, dry and still.
1986; originally printed in Roundup.
by permission of the author.