Perhaps it was the war after all, or
all its protests—a lasting glimmer
of the moon traveling through pine

trees before sleep, and when I awoke,
clarifying details within my darkness:
that first rattlesnake coiled upon the flat,

water-worn boulder of speckled granite,
upright tail a blur I could not hear
for the roar of the Tule River—she

grabbed my tiny hand. Fear or despair,
I believe in the gods around me: delight
in the flycatchers riding the backs of hawks

to erase the ugly cat we tortured as boys—
always that shameful joy on the way
to manhood—real raw material for these

goddesses with better natures to improve,
touched and saved by their layered
melodies so: that I can no longer hear

the holy chorus of hate and prejudice,
cannot participate in that war dance, lend
one synapse to any cause organized by men.

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