The Old Man and the Mountain

No one knows exactly when he emerged

from the face of the mountain, 

created by the same forces, the ice and fire

that harnessed the glacier, cracked the living stone

and carved the vast valley of his dominion.


Perhaps the old ones looked up

and discovered their image in his.  Perhaps,

unlike those who came later and called him Old Man,

they recognized a woman in that craggy profile,

as aging faces can lose the relevancy of gender.


But it is a human thing to hope that the world

is not an inhuman place, that sometimes

it reflects us back to ourselves, and reassures

that we are as intrinsic a part of the aggregate

as the waterfall, the moose and bear, the mountain itself.  


As days became years, then millennia, he presided

over deluge and drought, the cycle of forests

from green to gold to ash: the cold white world

springing over and over into riotous life.

Under his gaze tribes and herds rose and fell,

as civilization with its noise and dirt and hubris

squandered nature’s currency of balance and harmony. 


Sculptors say the work exists in the unbroken stone,

and the artist has only to reveal it.  If that is true

he was always there. But eventually the earth 

claims even mountains and all things pass away.

The Old Man now is an image on a stamp, a license plate:

a dream of endurance imposed upon a shattered face. 

— Peaco Todd



Honorable mention, Poems of NH contest

On and Off the Road:

Poems of New Hampshire, 2019

Peterborough Poetry Contest


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