Blue Ridge Escarpment
Dorothy Howe Brooks

Blue Ridge Escarpment

++++++You’re not in the mountains,
++++++the mountains are in you.
+++++++++++++-John Muir


Yesterday’s rain has washed the trees in green,
and still the scent of rain is in the air.
Rhododendron arches over the trail,
a roof thatched of blossoms,
and on the forest floor, galax
like green coins. A timber rattler
slides across the path,
gold diamonds etched on its back.
The stream we follow winds its way
through pine and Fraser fir
to the rockface edge,
becomes Rainbow Falls.


Philosophers have a name
for those qualities we perceive
but can’t measure: qualia.
The green of the rhododendron,
the black and gold of the rattler,
even the scent of rain or blossoms,
these things, they say, are private,
can’t be described. They may exist
only in our mind. But how else
to know the world?


There is a quality to waterfalls
even beyond perception
that can’t be named,
can’t be measured,
yet draws us
to this hidden place in the woods,
the way the moon draws the tides.
This knowing, like instinct:
from some still place
deeper than the senses.

Dorothy Howe Brooks

writes poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous literary journals, including Atlanta Review, Poet Lore, Louisiana Literature, Bayou, Poem, and Mangrove Review. Her second chapbook, Interstices, was published by Finishing Line Press, and her first full-length poetry collection, A Fine Dusting of Brightness, was published in 2013 by Aldrich Press. She lives with her husband in southwest Florida.