Forrest Gander

Madonna del Parto

And then smelling it,
feeling it before
the sound even reaches
him, he kneels at
cliff’s edge and for the
first time, turns his
head toward the now
visible falls that
gush over a quarter-
mile of uplifted sheet-
granite across the valley
and he pauses,
lowering his eyes
for a moment, unable
to withstand the
tranquility—vast, unencumbered,
terrifying, and primal. That
naked river
enthroned upon
the massif altar,
bowed cypresses
congregating on both
sides of sun-gleaming rock, a rip
in the fabric of the ongoing
forest from which rises—
as he tries to stand, tottering, half-
paralyzed—a shifting
rainbow volatilized by
ceaseless explosion.