BEYOND THE BEGINNINGS OF CANYONS

Behind the gate, the dirt track starts
and disappears, glints again like a fish
surfacing on the hillside, then gone

                going on
                beyond the beginnings
                of canyons,
                                seeps and springs,
                granite cracks
                                leaking Sierra snowmelt
                for a long time—
                                gossip rocks
                                whispering.

Cows fall out of manzanita and chemise
to welcome, even the oak trees dance,
limbs bent and broken, holes for eyes

                watching bobcat,
                watching hawk,
                watching nervous strings
                                of quail
                peck and watch
                                like deer
                bobbing under oaks
                                for acorns—

                each movement weighed
                before the flutter and scatter
                gives them away

                                                again

and again, going on beyond
and before. There is no rule
of thumb here, too much to grasp,
too steep to hold

                for men and machinery—
                                a place safe
                beyond the beginnings
                                of canyons.

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