Now I carry those days in a tiny box
                              wherever I go.

                                   – William Stafford (“Remembering”)

I feel for pocket-knife, keys and wallet,
handkerchief, cigarettes and lighter
before I pull on my boots, find my glasses

and pick which hat to meet the day’s
surprises, but this tiny box is always
with me. Before daylight, I crack the lid

to see what wants out on paper: a river,
a lake or Sierra pass take shape, pine smoke
curls through cedar boughs and I am

there with coffee before an eager fire
on another cold morning. Here money
buys nothing, and no more than paper

to ignite wet kindling after a thunderstorm,
all other urgencies are washed away, shed
downstream to mix and pool in the Valley—

like the Christmas flood of ‘67, when
they shipped food and freight into Visalia
by boat in May. We think we have

seen extremes, but the San Joaquin
has always been changing—begun
in the mountains, days above it all away.

One response to “IN THE DISTANT HAZE

  1. Beautiful John…..


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