All shades of gray, low clouds race
up canyon at first light after an all-night
rain, a tinge of green between the fuzz
of last year’s feed, short-cropped,
bleached-blond tufts upon steep clay slopes,
red as wet mahogany. I smell all the old souls
turn upon the wind gusts howling gleefully,
upon the log ends, their rise and stretch
finally free of their encasement, hills
like concrete holding skeletons of trees
in place for hawks for centuries.

These old Blue Oaks, charcoal gray after rain
gathered to the shady side of every draw,
have seen all kinds of weather, evolved
to survive and give back more
than they take away—bare circles of dirt
stirred beneath where deer have pawed
before the cattle and feral hogs, woodpeckers,
jays and pigeons, squirrels and rodents
between occasional bears come pruning.
They have fed us all, one time or another,
remained in place for emergencies.

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