Field Guide

It said, Study the map.
I did. I accepted the dare
of the rugged terrain.

Careful, always, not to crush
the tender, abundant
mosses adorning some stones
much as wool dresses
the boulder-stolid backs of sheep.

The surface was mostly
steep slope, cliff-face, and scree;

often, hard to find footholds.

Above, grew small fields
of rime-covered rock,
their furry panicles nurtured
by fog and frost.
And then, thin films of verglas,
so blue they appeared
to have been dyed
by the crushing and boiling
of woad, forcing its leaves
to give up their subtle
shades of indigo.

I believed the rock.
I believed that this new world’s
landmarks were permanent.

I had not yet read
the chapter on

Pamela Gross is a poet from Seattle. Her first full-length collection, Birds of the Night Sky/Stars of the Field, was published by the University of Georgia Press as part of its Contemporary Poetry Series. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, Poetry Northwest and Commonweal, among other journals.