The one I dreamed last night: a nestling
leathery of skin before feathers. I reached to
touch it and found it breathing.
I want to watch its wings unfold, that mystery/
magic. I want to hold flight
in my hands, working up my arms all the way
to the shoulder; strength rising to free
a pinched tendon.
I want to feel the Pelican’s joy
as it leaves the nest, joins the migration, soars
over Desolation headed north for its summer
sky, but capable of any season;
carving the wind so high that Pelican
is just a shimmer of sunlight
as I stand on the hill, lifting my arms
Wet meadow beckons. Lupine pod—its blue
long gone—and mules-ears rattle leaf on bone.
It’s fall. Were we expecting something new?
Late sun turns granite into glitter-stone.
You won’t walk far, but set up camp. And I
might hike the trail to see what birds still fly,
and how the creek runs still, expecting ice.
We come still strangers to this paradise.
It’s been raining to make my arm ache.
We’re getting older. But miles from here, kids
are playing a game of Gold Rush, gathered
in an old schoolhouse, drawing luck from a bag.
Already they’ve learned names of exotic places
I visit all the time: Hang Town, Gold Hill.
Each child has a poke of gold-painted pebbles
that diminishes by windfall or misfortune,
things that could happen to a miner: finding
a nugget while sweeping the saloon floor,
or eating a bad piece of meat and getting sick.
Or having an arm wear out, I might add.
The kids are having a blast. After the pebble-
fortune game they get to hike a creek-trail
and pan for gold. This morning, I get to walk
out after rain, following my dog up the same
hills where forty-niners found misfortune
and windfall. How lucky can I get?
In this room full of books bound for time
we wish for a migration, word to meaning, magic.
A scout intuited the way through
these canyons, ridges, over summits rimmed in rock.
The book of the last chieftain, the book
of trails, imagine a path open under blue sky.
Time passes free-flowing among clouds.
Listen to the tension. Ideas, ions—lightning.
Who can gauge the half-life
of creek-bank trembling like a bridge
that’s lost its keystone?
Our dogs police the raw perimeter
as waters swirl with broken
branches down, past whirlpool
at the culvert. The flood’s running
for a bus stop miles down-
current, and I listen to the torrent’s
dialog with earth.
How to decipher the code?
THE STARS AT IHOP
5000 ft elev, off Hwy 50
High above the fog, the night sky’s
unimaginable except in dreams of astronomers.
I dreamed about you last night, beautiful
to the bone, smile composed of stars.
You know all their names. I checked the Clear
Sky Chart, it should be a great night
for viewing, for visiting with friends we never
see anymore, brighter than the sun.
Remember how city light-pollution messes up
star-gazing in our lifetime. Come with me.
Sun going down behind us, we’ll head
up toward the Crystal Range; Ice House Road,
to a place we trained our dogs once
after the big fire, before the pines grew back
so tall. Now we need this IH Observing
Plateau for really seeing stars—
the ever-changing universe. Best to go
as a group? people warn about things that
slither, creep, go bump in the night.
With our dogs, we don’t worry. Come along.
The sky’s clear as ages ago, ageless
heavens wide open with unimaginable
—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham and Katy Brown for wonderful poems and pix on this first Sunday in December.
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