Self-Portrait as Mountain
Beth Copeland

From a distance, my face is Vishnu blue,

the shade of a newborn’s eye and smooth

from the erosion of wind, rain, and landslides.

My slope is like a woman’s unrobed shoulder.

My crown is cleft, as if two mountains merged—

one dark, one light—or to be true, two continents

collided in an earthquake when tectonic plates

shifted. I was shaped from cataclysm and unrest.

Up close, you see the rugged rocks—amphibolite,

mica schist, and shale—the fallen logs with lichen

and moss, honey locust thorns that pierce your palms

like nails, blackberry brambles and white briar roses,

hemlock, chokecherry, and oaks that block the climb.

There’s no trail through this fierce thicket to my heart.

You’ll have to bushwhack a path through wilderness

where only the best and bravest reach the crest.

Beth Copeland is the author of three full-length poetry books: Blue Honey, recipient of the 2017 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize; Transcendental Telemarketer; and Traveling through Glass, recipient of the 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award. She owns and operates Tiny Cabin, Big Ideas™, a residency for writers in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

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