Issue > Poetry
Ross White

Ross White

Ross White is the editor of Inch, a magazine of short poetry and microfiction, and the publisher of Bull City Press. His work has appeared in Tar River Poetry, Carolina Quarterly, and Southern Poetry Review, among others. He lives in Durham, and teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Dam At Parco Nazionale Del Gran Paradiso

On a particularly precarious section of the dam,
seven alpine ibexes balance—
four hooves stacked on a single stone—
scaling the crags that jut from cement,
hundreds of feet above a manmade valley,
licking for salt and minerals.

Most of the year, male ibexes prefer lowlands,
the security of the even and level.
The females tend towards higher terrains.

In winter, gripped by a peculiar ecstasy
that glides in on cold winds,
the males scale hill and mountain.

But sometimes, the trip up gets mixed up—
they climb levees instead of cliff-faces,
they discover great basins of placid water
where they should have found promontories
fat with gorgeous lady ibexes in heat.

Maybe when they arrive,
the male ibexes feel as peaceful as the water
in the deep reservoir the dam holds
high in the mountains,
but I can't help feeling resentment on their behalf.

All that time out on a ledge.

All those times I scaled the wrong dangerous wall
to places with names like Great Paradise,
sniffing at some promise,
some companionship.

How like a goat I felt
on the treacherous trip back down
to whatever hole I was living in.

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