Rocky Mountain Railroad, Epiphany by Luci Shaw

Image by Linda Richardson

Image by Linda Richardson

For January 5th in my  Anthology from Canterbury PressWaiting on the Word, I have chosen to read Rocky Mountain Railroad, Epiphany by Luci Shaw. this poem makes an interesting contrast and parallel with Coleridge’s psalm-like outpouring of yesterday. Both poems are a response to the beauty of nature, and specifically to the sight of snowy mountains, and the whole play of light on snow and ice. In both poems we have a sense of glory and of the sublime rising ‘reaches of peak above peak beyond peak’.

You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. The image above was created by Linda Richardson. She Writes:

Luci Shaw takes a subtly different approach to Coleridge as she describes, ‘in a net of words’, her transcendent experience. She uses herself as a mirror to describe the effect the experience has on her. ‘I imbed it in my brain so that it will flash and flash again…an alternate reality…my open window mind is too little,…I long for each sweep….’

 In the image I made, the words open and condense in the lines, sometimes clear, sometimes hidden in the ink, indicating the fleeting glimpses we see as we hurtle along in a train. Life reflects the train journey. The Divine is always around us, sometimes clearly visible in love given and received, sometimes only glimpsed as we speed by. And often, if our focus is too close, all we see is our own reflection in the window.

You can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle

Rocky Mountain Railroad, Epiphany   Luci Shaw

The steel rails parallel the river as we penetrate

ranges of pleated slopes and crests—all too complicated

for capture in a net of words. In this showing, the train window

is a lens for an alternate reality—the sky lifts and the light forms

shadows of unstudied intricacy. The multiple colors of snow

in the dimpled fresh fall. Boulders like white breasts. Edges

blunted with snow. My open-window mind is too little for

this landscape. I long for each sweep of view to toss off

a sliver, imbed it in my brain so that it will flash

and flash again its unrepeatable views. Inches. Angles.

Niches. Two eagles. A black crow. Skeletal twigs’ notched

chalices for snow. Reaches of peak above peak beyond peak

Next to the track the low sun burns the silver birches into

brass candles. And always the flow of the companion river’s

cord of silk links the valleys together with the probability

of continuing revelation. I mind-freeze for the future

this day’s worth of disclosure. Through the glass

the epiphanies reel me in, absorbed, enlightened.


Filed under imagination

6 responses to “Rocky Mountain Railroad, Epiphany by Luci Shaw

  1. Bethan Scotford

    Wow! what a poem. Such descriptions – heaped rhythmically and unendingly one after the other ( like the rhythmic clatter of the train),She veers from factual to intuitive descriptions – which are brilliant e.gdimpled fall, white breasts, blunted with snow; ;my open-window mind is too little’You can feel the speed and the momentariness of the views as they whip past her vision -angles, niches, two eagles, twigs -then chalices for snow ( the intuitive view)
    and the beautifully unexpected metaphor of the low sun as in a foundry – ‘burning the birch into brass candles. Vision! The river becomes a silken cord, together with the gold colour of ‘candlesticks’ convey to me some liturgical space.
    All is NOT as it seems; the hidden glory in nature, shoots out revealing the triumphant inner language of our God-given world.
    Epiphany? YES!

  2. David McNair

    I have enjoyed your sendings for advent. Thanks. I finally got around to clicking on the link for Linda Richardson to learn a little more about her and her art work and received a message that the page no longer exists. Can you check the link and get it updated so that I can follow through on that road of discovery? Thanks David McNair Practice random Kindness and Senseless acts of Beauty.

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll fix the link. Meanwhile if you google Linda Richardson artist you should find her

  3. bgulland72

    revelatory, thank you

  4. David C Brown

    I must go there some time! It certainly makes the place vivid. Blessings to the Creator!

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