Three Sisters

by Edward Harsen

Change overcame me in the Cascade Range.
The McKenzie-Bend Highway
runs west from Deschutes, along Three Sisters
into the Santiam shadow of Three Fingered Jack,
and the glacier lying like a coin in his palm.

I drove all day under the eyes of that family
as they held up the sky,
swerving past a chattered and volcanic skyline

and phoning in from some
wayside wide spot to ask the way,
likely way late getting to a party,
just to sleep on the floor,
worn, story-filled, travel-famished.

When my sister died
it was like a minaret had fallen,
like one of the pillars that hold up heaven had fallen.

Heaven didn’t fall,
but the slopes and peaks are more delicate,
as though one must walk barefoot across
the great floor of the earth,
under a ceiling that seems at times to tip.

Teardrop Pool on South Sister
fills with spring snowmelt.
When called to pray,
I turn to the center of the world.

©Edward Harsen 2012

3 thoughts on “Three Sisters by Edward Harsen

  1. The extended metaphors of a family holding up the sky until the loss of a sister when The Three Sisters are no longer strong, implacable mountains but now, though nature is neither malevolent or benevolent; simply indifferent that axiom is challenged as the frailty of a minaret, with its religious connotations, is now as vulnerable as the writer. The tip in the sky is like a tear in the very fabric of reality as after loss of a family member nothing is the same and isolation and alienation prevail as each member grieves separately and forever alone. In this poem, it seems as if Nature itself is changed by the loss of a sister as much as if one the Sisters themselves had crumpled and fallen. The fragility and vulnerability of nature reflects that of the poet and the internal rhythm in a free verse poem shows control and familiarity with the sound devices which separate poetry from prose. Brilliant compression as the grief and pain of loss is never expressed in words but in fresh imagery and diction. This poem, as always, is the ruby amongst colored glass. I cannot help but think this is from personal experience and after losing my sister, watched my family shatter and fragment as we became fragile and vulnerable , making lone figures at The Teardrop Pool as the sky, and then our lives tore apart irreparably. ~~~~~~Namaste’~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  2. Fascinating read! The intertwined stories of the landscape and the relationship with your sister are powerful. “along Three Sisters into the Santiam shadow of Three Fingered Jack, and the glacier lying like a coin in his palm.” Very visual and descriptive. Thank you.

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