The High Place

“The High Place”

In Poetry Issue Four by David Rubenstein

high place

The High Place

I went today to the High Place
The vision place,
The seeing place,
I went up today to our place, high up in the hills.

I’d stayed away for oh so long
For so long,
Not knowing why,
I’d stayed away for so long, down where the mortals dwell.

Our place is a place that’s so high
We thought that we
Could see forever,
Our place is a place that’s so high, we could see the things to come.

We thought that we could see forever.
We used to come here
You and I
We thought that we could see forever, the future ours to see.

Now I know why I was staying away
Not coming back
Not making the climb
Now I know why I was staying away; so as not to look into our past.

But the fates pulled me back and there I did go
And of course I looked back
And wondered ‘bout you.
Of course I looked back and wondered ‘bout you, where had you gone off to?

You can’t see where you’re going if you can’t see where you’ve been.
I tried looking forward
Into my future
But all I could only see as I peered from the height, was our past and wonder ‘bout you.

It was easy to recall when we’d come here together
Pointing off toward the hills
Looking here, looking there
Debating the context and composition of the cumulous visions we saw.

We’d fix a destination, a point far ahead,
Roughing out a route
To get us to it.
Then back down we’d go to our every-day life, to try to stay on the Plan.
But each time we tried, we’d run onto the shoals,
Founder, flopping about
Gasping onto the land
Then languishing there until once again, the fates led us back up to the High Place.

So there I was, at the vantage point
Where vision leads
To introspection,
And suddenly I couldn’t remember when you’d left me by myself.

I remember so much about when you were here
Every detail of us
Imprinted on my mind
I can remember so much about when you were here, but your departing I cannot recall.

Did we say goodbye?

I’ve seen you so oft since you went away
No, not your face
A familiar silhouette
An unmistakable gait ahead in a crowd, I’d rush to greet you, but e’er you were gone.

It took me a long time to accept that you’d left
I thought we were one
Kindred spirits, one mind
I thought we were one, indivisible but, I’m here now alone and you’re gone.

How could you leave?

But today when I climbed back up to the peak
Looking into the past
For the very first time
Today at the High Place I knew a different truth; it was me who had left, not you.

It was I who bolted from our chosen path
Gone off to the world
I now call my home
It was I who had bolted and abandoned the dream, but I can’t recall how or when.

We had jested so oft as we mocked all the rest
The unenlightened ones
The ones not like us.
“A conservative is a radical with a wife and two kids,” we’d say with ironic sadness.

Yet, here am I a wage slave
Time-clock puncher
Cubicle dweller
Walking the straight and narrow, taking no chances with my family’s fate.

They need me, I nourish them,
House them,
Guide them,
I shelter and sustain them, walking the straight and narrow.

Silently I may rage against
Injustice and greed,
But I won’t be marching,
I shelter and sustain them, walking the straight and narrow.

I won’t be building dams in Kenya
For the Peace Corps
Hiking in Tibet
I’ll not climb Kilimanjaro, nor surf an Australian shore.

I have no doubt that you will
Soar with the eagles,
Fight the good fight
I have no doubt that you will, living our High Place dreams.

Some days in my mind I join you
My hand in yours
Free as a bird
Some days in my mind I’m there with you, but I’m back at my desk in the morn.

And it will be a very long time
A very long time
A very long time
It will be a very long time before I climb up to that High Place again.


About the Author

David Rubenstein

David S. Rubenstein is an American writer, photographer, and painter. His short stories have appeared in Crack the Spine, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Blood and Thunder, Yellow Medicine Review, Chrysalis Reader (five stories), The MacGuffin (two stories), Owen Wister Review, DeathRealm, The Monocacy Valley Review, Half Tones to Jubilee, The Rampant Guinea Pig, The Mythic Circle, Alpha Adventures, and others, and have been nominated twice for the Pushcart prize. His photographs have appeared in Chrysalis Reader, Midwest Gothic, Blue Mesa Review, and others.
A collection of his short stories can be found on Kobo at the following link: Piasa! and Other Stories.