Struggles with Perceptual Constancy
by Elizabeth Johnson
- Native prairie grass grows on the best
- Sledding hills of the close pasture;
- On slopes too steep to have ever been tilled.
- The grades are embankment; a bluff atop which
- Three hollows dip and deepen into ravines at the edge.
- Two Russian Olive trees grow on the
- Precipitous rise, and have for over forty years.
- Cattle and weather abrade the bark and erode at the root,
- But the trees claw fiercely; with tenacity
- And spare beauty.
- Boulders dug from land on the high flat
- Were rolled into the ravines; piled into
- Casual arrangements; many from so long ago it is
- As if they grew there, and bore children.
- The hillsides are dry and rocky.
- The terrain beckons to ankle-twisting hikes and
- Intimate reunion with particular rocks
- And complex topography held whole in the memory.
- Each spring short, curling, native grass comes as it
- Always has; unwilling to die.
- Stones and pebbles and dirt claim this space; steadfast
- Since the end of the Ice Age.
- This ridge too steep to plow resists;
- A frontier that defies the threats encompassing
- The land on all sides.
- The prairie has borne loss before.
- Such a living home brings confusion with its bride; limits
- And uncertainties.
- Brings delight in its passionate fortitude and fear
- In our incomprehension.
- As if somehow the hills, my hills, can endure only
- Through the seasons they share with me.
- Perhaps we are needed, to challenge the land; to know
- These brown and green swells.
- When I no more am here to cherish this place how
- Will the sunrise start each new day?
Packingtown Review – Vol.6, Winter 2014/2015
Elizabeth Johnson, PhD. is a clinical psychologist who, in addition to professional publications and presentations, has had poems published in Nimrod, Bear Creek Haiku, North American Review, International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and North Dakota Quarterly. She lives in a timber frame home she hand-built in Colorado, and spends as much time as possible writing poetry.