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