What if the mountain is a grandmother?
What if she spreads her knees to widen
her lap for us, what if she says to us, beckoning,
“Come sit on my lap,
Come sit on my starry skirt.”
--These two lines from Elizabeth Alexander’s poem, “Krishna Denies Eating Mud.”
This mountain is fifty miles from Portland, shawled in snow throughout the year, in a fresh white garment now. She is the second-most-climbed mountain in the world, after Mt. Fuji, the first. Called by the Multnomah people, Wy’east; called by the whites who came later, Mt. Hood, this mountain, it seems to me, is grandmotherly. She breathes fresh silences that float down to comfort us. We in our little doll-house apartments, we in toy cars or trucks, we are absorbed in the small worlds we wrap around ourselves, insistent as newly-hatched birds, vulnerable, mouths wide in hope. We wait. Most days we cannot see her. Most days the sky is clotted and gray, most days wet mists drift down between us and the grandmother. But late this afternoon the sun broke through for an hour, and there she was.
She watches tribes rise and fall. She watches as we make our plans, dream, rage, scheme, couple, give birth, wrinkle up, and die. She keeps her seat, breathing. Come sit on my lap, she beckons. Come sit on my starry skirt.