Above the Oxbow

by Sylvia Plath

Here in this valley of discrete academies We have not mountains, but mounts, truncated hillocks To the Adirondacks, to northern Monadnock, Themselves mere rocky hillocks to an Everest. Still, they're out best mustering of height: by Comparison with the sunnken silver-grizzled Back of the Connecticut, the river-level Flats of Hadley farms, they're lofty enough Elevations to be called something more than hills. Green, wholly green, they stand their knobby spine Against our sky: they are what we look southward to Up Pleasant Street at Main. Poising their shapes Between the snuff and red tar-paper apartments, They mound a summer coolness in our view. To people who live in the bottom of valleys A rise in the landscape, hummock or hogback, looks To be meant for climbing. A peculiar logic In going up for the coming down if the post We start at's the same post we finish by, But it's the clear conversion at the top can hold Us to the oblique road, in spite of a fitful Wish for even ground, and it's the last cliff Ledge will dislodge out cramped concept of space, unwall Horizons beyond vision, spill vision After the horizons, stretching the narrowed eye To full capacity. We climb to hopes Of such seeing up the leaf-shuttered escarpments, Blindered by green, under a green-grained sky Into the blue. Tops define themselves as places Where nothing higher's to be looked to. Downward looks Follow the black arrow-backs of swifts on their track Of the air eddies' loop and arc though air's at rest To us, since we see no leaf edge stir high Here on a mount overlaid with leaves. The paint-peeled Hundred-year-old hotel sustains its ramshackle Four-way veranda, view-keeping above The fallen timbers of its once remarkable Funicular railway, witness to gone Time, and to graces gone with the time. A state view- Keeper collects half-dollars for the slopes Of state scenery, sells soda, shows off viewpoints. A ruffy skylight oaints the gray oxbow And paints the river's pale circumfluent stillness. As roses broach their carmine in a mirror. Flux Of the desultory currents --- all that unique Stripple of shifting wave-tips is ironed out, lost In the simplified orderings of sky- Lorded perspectives. Maplike, the far fields are ruled By correct green lines and no seedy free-for-all Of asparagus heads. Cars run their suave Colored beads on the strung roads, and the people stroll Straightforwardly across the springing green. All's peace and discipline down there. Till lately we Lived under the shadow of hot rooftops And never saw how coolly we might move. For once A high hush quietens the crickets' cry.