Down Harkins Fire Road (El Mar de la Purissima)

A pale tide
floods the redwoods,
swirls over chaparral ridges.
The mountain sinks below a white sea;
we ride the waves
a thousand feet
above the coast.

Una pleamar pálida
inunda las secoyas,
remolina alrededor
de las arrugas de chaparral.
La montaña desaparece
debajo de un mar blanco;
montamos las olas
trescientos metros
por encima de la costa.


23 Things on Monday’s List

  1. Wake to the avian overture to your meteorological opera
  2. Whisper the first recitative in your lover’s ear as you rise
  3. Don silk the color of the western horizon at dawn
  4. Ease through the door and into the morning garden
  5. Salute the blue skies
  6. Flit among the English lavender
  7. Burrow beneath the carrots without a sound
  8. Roust the snails and sow bugs that hide between cabbage leaves
  9. Startle earthworms with noble verse
  10. Rest during the midday intermission, but cry out for clouds to appear
  11. Sing a late afternoon love duet with the wren on the beanpole
  12. Waltz among the squash and tango over the tomatoes
  13. Chant to the heroic sunset
  14. Fly with the bats in the twilight, hunting for gnats at the garden’s edge
  15. Howl, but wait until moonrise
  16. Listen for distant yips from the chorus of coyotes
  17. Return their calls note for note (but in a different key)
  18. Fly through the garden again, much slower this time
  19. Carry lettuce in an offering to the stars
  20. Sing your final aria with the voice of dry leaves rustling
  21. Find your place for the curtain call (close to the fennel)
  22. Graciously accept your admiring lover’s gift of a thousand flowers
  23. Revel in thunderous applause from the gathered dragonflies

(appeared in Air Conditioning and Other Pleasures)

Lichen Tangled in Her Hair

Red-tail calls in the cloudless sky.
I hear him say he saw
the woman with lichen tangled in her hair
dance across the rounded hilltop
under the great, dark oak.
She whirled among thin green stalks
of miner’s lettuce,
over their rounded leaves
and tiny white flowers.
She soared in the shadow
of thick arching branches
that meet ground at their tips.
She danced past tiny caterpillars
dangling from fine threads
that swayed back and forth
in the breeze of her passing.
She somersaulted across leaf litter,
stilling cricket’s rasp
and darkling beetle’s rustle.

I want to ask red-tail
if he saw my true love
dance beneath rough bark
carpeted in deep green moss
and tumble into sunlight
beyond the oak.
But spider has captured my voice
in dusty grey webs
strung between bare branches
Without a voice, I must pantomime,
but red-tail can’t see me
from his distant perch
across the deep canyon
of dark Douglas firs.
Lacy-winged grey flies
with long white legs
hover over her footprints,
understanding nothing,
and turkey vulture glides past,
staring with tiny black eyes,
but won’t say where she’s gone.