From roadhead, you took off hiking up
the Highland Trail—sweatshirt and jeans
on a pleasant October day. You didn’t get back
home. The mercury dreamed of winter.
Freezing with a fresh-strong breeze. Wind-
chill. What were your lost-night’s wilderness
dreams? wandering in bairnwood under
everlasting snow, a raven showing you the way
to a cottage warm with woodstove? or
Desolation angels, wing-chill mysteries
of crystal ice, the autograph a lost hiker leaves
on wind? What are dreams? When searchers
found you, far from your intended route,
did you speak of angels, the ones who
keep a hiker through the lost night;
their counsels in the chronicles of ice?
The highway’s lined by cedars dense and green
under a cloudless sky Sierra blue.
A forest-camo tarp remains unseen
by hurried motorists. Quite lost from view—
I didn’t notice it at all, did you?
No place for camping. There’s a man who sleeps
here with whatever mysteries he keeps,
invisible as he might be to cars
bound from here to elsewhere. The evening seeps
into a dark that sets off his least stars.
LAND OF LOST LANDSCAPES
This morning, gremlins broke my glasses.
My diminishing eyesight. Looking past
our fences, those fields are fuzzy
where a neighbor—gone now—grazed
his sheep. How things fall apart,
like the tiny hinge of a plastic glasses frame.
Invisible forces, failure of a lens
once shining and exact. The wear of time
on memory. We live on a fault—
Melones fault zone—and there’s an ancient
river buried under our feet. Evolving
earth: what once was molten
hardens. We’re here at confluence,
our seasonal creek gouging a little deeper
with every winter storm
to join a Webber tributary that keeps on
cutting this canyon. Migratory water
leaves sandbars across our path.
the creek that runs
thru town, between banks
of rocks, alder, willow.
But here for a city block
it disappears under buildings
and parking lot. Commerce. I almost
lose its course thru town, thru Gold Rush history
when the miners panned so richly, they built
homes atop the streambed. So what’s new?
Beyond parking lot I find creek
again, still glittering as
it flows over rocks, thru
alder and willow
singing its song
So much to learn about a place I’ve lived
for years—just one blink in the stretch of Time.
This creek—young by Time’s long
reckoning—carves its way through rock
laid down by energy of super-volcano, eons
before the thought of Man. It runs through town,
cutting across an ancient riverbed far beneath
us, our town’s foundation and treasure—
the Deep Blue Lead which I never heard of,
till moments ago in the measure of Time.
I’ve studied maps, plotted
lat-longs; find glimpses like puzzle-pieces
in hydraulic cliffs. Spanish Hill, honey-burnish
rock pocked and blasted in search of gold.
So much to learn.
Oh the blessing of carbon creating life
as we know it. What favorable conditions
led to Fox, Bear, Man, and the wild Goat who
gazed down on me from the Spanish cliff?
Nerve and synapse. This Ladybug who lands
beside me on a creekside leaf.
So much I’ll never fathom.
Hints in water-polished rock ridged
by ages of weathering. This dotted beetle who
considers me with her intricate eye, then
flies away on Ladybug business,
here by the bike path, across from city hall.
KYRIELLE FOR A LOT LOST
So it was zoned commercial, and
it grew lush weeds—a useless yield—
on native DG granite sand.
Oh it was such an empty field
and once, it’s true, was nothing there
except a wild brown filly wheeled
and bucked her joy at clean spring air.
Oh it was such an empty field,
I used to drive on past, and ease
my mind and let my self be healed,
car windows open to a breeze—
oh it was such an empty field.
It sold and now a parking lot is paved
on what invisibly appealed
to what I hoped might still be saved.
Oh it was once an empty field.
In the antiques shop, artifacts of settlers
who carried with them from drought to drought
a hammer, a darning egg. Invisible
imprint of fingers; immigrants wrenched
from homes across continents, oceans
mourning what they left behind.
Stories. A Queen Anne table with neatly
carved club-feet, its finish faithfully
polished by years. Cookbook with broken
spine, pages brittle but luminous with olive-oil
thumbprints, recipe for polenta.
And this book, title faded into buckram binding,
falls open to an entry: cretin from French
through the Alps from Vulgar Latin christianus,
anyone in Christendom,’ ‘a poor fellow.’
How far we’ve migrated, where are we going?
Stories for sale on an everyday Tuesday.
In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.
—Leonardo da Vinci
—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for seeking the creek with us in her poetry and photos on this warm, warm day. (And the bluebird chicks have hatched!—see photo.)
For more about the dizain, go to www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/dizain-poetic-form/.
For more about the kyrielle, see www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/kyrielle.html/.
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