Based on “The Sacramento” by Jeff Knorr:*This is a response poem that incorporates and modifies the last line of Knorr’s work

The mountains stand like a wall: impenetrable, cool, aloof.
Pretending, from a distance, to be flat and angular, one dimensional,
Hoping to be disregardedan impossible desire
Unwilling to give up their secrets.
In reality, the peaks are grasping for the invigorating air,
hiding the constant ebb and flow of life on their surfaces:
the sequence of seasons, creatures’ comings and goings, rest and renewal
that were once safely hidden in a cocoon of snow or thick-leaved summer trees.
Now the pine curl in on themselves, surrendering.
Their unnatural orange color is like a warning sign.
The aspen weaken, too, unable to bear the load themselves.
Now smog makes the peaks look stunted.
Yearly fire sears them; the sun burns too hot without the umbrella of trees to protect.
Their inner workings are severed as humanity lays out evidence of its progress
Once only the most respectful could learn their secrets; now they are laid bare to all.
Roads like wires, narrow, but tight, admit humanity while squeezing life from the mountains.
Skiers and bikers rip down their sides, cutting deep, while hikers pockmark their surfaces,
replacing the permanent with their fleeting enjoyment.
Now the jagged peaks are a knife edge of life and death – for themselves and us.
Let us heed the warning! “Let these mountains make us want to do right.”

A specific place in the Rocky Mountains that embodies this poem for me is Herman Gulch, just on the east side of the I-70 Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado. This used to be one of my favorite hikes but now the majority of the trees have died. Here is a map:

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November 16, 2020 2:19 am

Dear Natasha,

I am mystified by your poem, “Rocky Mountains”, as I have lived near them my whole life and have not thought of them in the ways you describe in this poem. However, given recent events which you clearly know of, this poem is daring and appropriate.

One line that particularly stood out to me was “Once only the most respectful could learn their secrets; now they are laid bare to all.” This line stood out to me as it shows just how bare the mountains become when the fires rage through. It really seems to take out a bit of the solitude that is within the mountains.

Your poem helps me to understand that I am not the only one who has felt the sadness from the fires this year, and I am not the only one who suffers.

Thank you for your poem.

Jeff Knorr
Jeff Knorr
September 19, 2020 8:28 pm

Natasha, I enjoyed your poem. Thanks for using my line as a piece of inspiration for your poem–that means a lot. I can entirely relate to your sentiments in the poem of watching this land change and considering our impact in that change.

August 20, 2020 12:31 am

i love this place , i went here with my bestfriend .

Rose brown
Rose brown
August 2, 2020 4:42 am

This is a beautiful view I want to go here some day

Megan Reetz
Megan Reetz
November 17, 2019 10:24 pm

As a Colorado native, I really enjoyed your poem and the depth to the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. They are truly immense and powerful in the power and majesty that they convey to all who see them! I especially love your line “Hoping to be disregarded—an impossible desire—”. The Rockies are a force to be reckoned with and they just…are. They don’t ask for anything yet they receive so much attention. Great poem!

Jamie Shaw
Jamie Shaw
November 17, 2019 8:27 pm

Wow! Powerful poem! Many messages within this poem. Made me think twice about the human impact we have on our precious mountains. We must enjoy and protect.

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