Our Poet Celebrates Colorado In Winter

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Zach Dischner/Flickr CC
The San Juan Mountains at night.

In honor of winter, Colorado Matters resident poet David Rothman composed "Hic Sunt Leones." In Latin that means "Here There are Lions." Ancient Roman and Medieval cartographers would write this sentence on maps to indicate wilderness and unknown territories.

The poem is dedicated to Art Goodtimes, who is serving his fifth term on the San Miguel County Board of Commissioners. Goodtimes is Colorado’s only elected member of the Green Party.

"Because Art is also a gifted poet and has been connected with the Telluride Mushroom Festival for over 30 years, the dedication reads 'silvae rēx et fungōrum,' Latin for 'King of the forest and of the mushrooms,'" Rothman says.

Hic Sunt Leones

By David Rothman

Driving late
Black Canyon north rim
January snow
drifting homeward
inside a dishwasher
forty minutes alone
no cars no towns
no farms no nothing
hours to go
son Noah asleep
beside me.
Unplowed road
quiet powder driving
slow and slick
after his ski race
the father the son
a motor bubble
traversing wildness.
Rising up
out of deep crescents
the road meanders
hugging contours
returning to ledges
plummeting right
thousands of feet
into obscurity.
caught in the beams
the swirling eddies
what is that raised head?
no antlers
not lost cows
too big to be
fox or coyote.

The big one turns
Galloping, loping
triangular face
the long gold tail
snaps sideways
in the beams
then he or she
oh see the cub
no doubt a she
is over the snowbank right
the small one uphill left
both rippling muscle
paws splaying
in the drifts.
Why not yell?
Cry out?
to the wild
whatever it may be
of itself
and of our creation
here now those eyes
cunning purposeful
eager to depart
accusatory perplexed.
Not even ten seconds
the heart stopped
continuing into wild truth
who are you
able so gracefully
to walk the world
naked on such a night?
Noah scrambles
awake in his seat
Did we go over a cliff?”

Turning back to be sure
there it is
enormous paw-print evidence
snow churning as before
filling them in
as we depart.
Then the lovely cats
parent and child
reunited nose to nose
regarding red tail-lights
receding continuing
“Are you ok?”
“What was that?”