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River, West Montana

Stone shapes river,
river sculpts stone.

Beyond cutting blue zigzag,
raw rock and prickly forest,
a mountain soft with distance
pretends to be the sky.

(And what, indeed, is distance
but the intervention
of attempted sky?)

Each thing has its exact distance
from each other thing
and from us, not changing
even if we approach the painting,

unless we come so close
that all distance is flattened
to the thicknesses of paintstrokes.

The painting is flat,
so the distances it sculpts
must be carved out of
whatever we are.

Or do you pretend the distant mountain
that pretends to be sky
is far away inside the painting,
not inside you.

Dean Blehert

Last Updated: October 6, 2002

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