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10 A View from the Mountain jeanne emmons Even with his great, sad eyes, the pupils drilled twenty-two inches wide to give the impression of depth, Lincoln hardly can have seen how the mountain once heaved its back, the rock rising, igneous and intrusive, a billion and more years before Borglum. Roosevelt with his stone spectacles hardly can have told what creature might, in a billion years, roam and puzzle over the ruins of all this, when Earth has another thought. And we squint from our thin slit of the time line. We gawk in awe at how the mountain is branded— the honeycombing drills, the masculine mastery, chisels, air hammers, sheer audacity, blind ambition—the blasts, the slabs of granite tumbling. All the while, deep in some quarry, a ferny fossil lies stamped on limestone— the imprint of another, humbler species, utterly devoid of hellfire, heaven, and hubris. Time will go on rippling through the crust, all eruptions and interruptions folded back into the earth. A rusting steel drill bit, broken off and abandoned, spreads its stain. They seal the widening cracks with silicone. See how the bighorn sheep climb on the scree of shattered rock where torsos would have been? Hawks tilt and glide. Nuthatches flit from branch to branch, and in the pines the wind shushes and keeps the mountain’s secrets. 11 Jefferson, with a mouth eighteen feet wide, keeps silent also, stricken dumb and blind. And Washington, his gaze on the horizon, could hardly have seen even the saddles suspended on thin cables before his very eyes— or the sweat and dust of those who dangled there. Who blasted and drilled until their bones shook loose and went home to their wives and night terrors. Who dreamed of infinite time, the depths of space, and rose up with a cry from their mattresses to cling to their bedposts for dear life. ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2165-2651
Print ISSN
1553-1775
Pages
pp. 10-11
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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