a northwest landscape (excerpt)

Denis Johnson’s TRAIN DREAMS, p. 112

At sunset, all progress stopped. He was standing on a cliff. He’d found a back way into a kind of arena enclosing a body of water called Spruce Lake, and now he looked down on it hundreds of feet below him, its flat surface as still and black as obsidian, engulfed in the shadow of surrounding cliffs, ringed with a double ring of evergreens and reflected evergreens. Beyond, he saw the Canadian Rockies still sunlit, snow-peaked, a hundred miles away, as if the earth were in the midst of its creation, the mountains taking their substance out of the clouds. He’d never seen so grand a prospect. The forests that filled his life were so thickly populous and so tall that generally they blocked him from seeing how far away the world was, but right now it seemed clear there were mountains enough for everybody to get his own.

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