Mount Tuam (Salt Spring Island)



P1000932 4poleMount Tuam , also known as the Sacred Mountain, rises on the southwest ‘corner’ of Saltspring Island, overlooking Satellite Channel and the north end of the Saanich Peninsula. For years I thought that ‘Tuam’ was a First Nations name but the mountain is most likely named after the cathedral town of Tuam in County Galway, Ireland. The summit (606 m) is one of the highest points on Saltspring Island and it can be seen from many places on the Saanich Peninsula all the way south to Victoria. Its presence is so dominant in North Saanich that I came to view Mount Tuam as an overlooking guardian and record-keeper.

Snow on Mount Tuam

It’s only a hill, really,
but you can’t hide from Tuam.
Tuam looks down on you,
and you can feel it, too,
the overlooking presence that
knows where and who you are.
Tuam no longer judges;
Tuam just keeps track,
Clouds don’t give a darn;
Self-absorbed, they waltz the sky,
Up, down, near or far,
Benign or full of mischief.
Sometimes they rest a while,
Propped up by the hills,
blocking Tuam’s sight lines.

When clouds moved on this morning
they left Tuam painted white.
“Don’t worry,” they said on parting,
“next bunch will wash it off.”
A blessing or reminder that
mountains, too, grow old?
I find it beautiful but cold.
(December 30, 2015)



P1000936 alt


I stood before you, Tuam.
with paints and a panel of deep space blue.
You looked, may I say, a little smug,
standing back and saying “Here we are.”

The trees across the bay
turned their backs to me,
awaiting your approval.
Maybe they are still waiting.

One or two were over-dressed
in golds and yellows.
I know that does not please you.
But such glory will not last.

The sky lay on your shoulders,
white cloud upon your western flank.
Impertinence though it was
they looked good on you.

The sea did not brood in glassy silence.
Neither did it roar in wind-swept rage.
Forgot its task to wear away
all that dare to rise above it.

That’s you and me, Bub.

First I painted your shawl of sky,
respecting the contour of your ridge,
then the row of trees along the shore,
the tall ones dark against your glow.

Next, the indifferent sea,
some bushes and a path
to show that I, like you,
was poised upon the ground.

And then, it seems disloyal
(though perhaps you knew),
Right side, a young arbutus,
larger on the page than you.

I stepped back.

My image still without you
showed a hole punched through
to space where we might fall
were you not there to stop us.

With racing heart, I brushed you in
Before the cosmos noticed, and then,
to show the fickleness of men,
I daubed the scarlet clusters of arbutus fruit.

(October 26 2016)





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