A Forest of Possibilities

The granite cliff-face cleaned
by passing sheets of dirty ice
(collected snow from years of winters),
guards a mountain forest,
incubates its massive trunks
and tangled undergrowth
within its solid heart.
The cracking of this egg takes patience,
first just rain and ice,
twin wedges chipping patiently
exfoliate dermal layers--
slabs slither free to crash below.
Next the brainless lichens paint
the face in yellow, orange,
shades of green and black--
they cling like death's finality
and slowly crumble, with acid spit,
the rock they hold
then slowly die
and mix their residue
with powdered rock.
And still, the forest is years away
as soil forms in tiny cracks
a penstemon, a phlox,
some weathered, stunted ferns
devour the virgin earth and,
after rain and wind and snow,
return their withered remnants
to the growing clod.
If time stood still
it would seem the same
as if the clock ran on;
change is slow, and gauged
by days and years is imperceptible.
My life is too concise to see the tapestry
unfold from rock to wood,
but now, today, is adequate
for lifetimes of fragments dropped,
collected and cemented together.
Seeing life appear from barren rock,
erasing years of sterile solitude,
commences hope, or more than hope,
conviction, nearly proof
that dreaming here,
to waken grain by grain,
resides a forest of possibility.

Bryan Ness