Rembrandt in the Stairwell begins in the wild land of the Northwest, then navigates the complex interior of memory as it is woven into the present. Alan Weltzien imagines rooms where images of ancestors and the “ghosts” of grown children linger even as he contemplates “the day’s traffic and the world.” These poems are often elegiac, sometimes ironic or celebratory, and a pleasure to read.
—Tami Haaland, former Montana poet laureate.
From the book:
Bighorn Medicine Wheel
Steep approach, higher and higher
one-and-a-half miles dirt-gravel
off 14-A, one-and-a-half miles
by foot below Medicine Mountain’s
summit, rise then fall
then rise to that open shoulder
9600’, hard wheel girded
by a wood fence festooned with
prayer flags, cloth scraps,
This sunny Sunday, no photos
or words, a native woman
inside kneels, bows her head low,
jet hair brown skin offset
she hovers in rocky recess
for hours as white visitors
We slow round the rim,
pause our circular progress
my eyes flick from distant air,
wheels upon wheels
myriad miles out and down
back to her recumbent form.
My fingertips touch smoothed wood
as her prayers lift along stone spokes,
fly out and up in trembling
warm air as they have circled
O. Alan Weltzien, longtime English professor at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana, has published dozens of articles and eight books. His most recent book is "Exceptional Mountains: A Cultural History of the Pacific Northwest Volcanoes" (Univ. Nebraska Press, 2016). He has published poems recently in "The Owen Wister Review" and "The Sewanee Review." "Rembrandt in the Stairwell" is his third book of poetry. Weltzien still skis in winter and scrambles peaks in summer.
Rembrandt in the Stairwell
is a 96 page hand-sewn paperbook with spine. $16.00