speaking to knowledge,
finally, in my bones.
– Wendell Berry (“The Gathering”)
On the staircase, generations stepped,
fathers above sons, as if a portrait
of success in stern, reoccurring dreams
that have no place for me
in the old house—a dark fortress now
with high ceilings and glass chandeliers,
Oriental carpets preserved in stale air.
Yet from my mouth they speak,
reverberations in my skull come true,
time and again, phrases on landmarks
in the wilderness of circumstance
for me to find with my own tongue.
The space between my bones
pops and cracks like knotty pine
bleeding into a high-country fire, bright
cloud of embers rising to the stars
above us all. I grow more deliberate,
measuring with my eye, tasting sweet
words that with plodding come
deliciously useful, beautiful notions
that with love have borne fruit.
Last night, the only two I knew
came back to me grinning, gray
outside eyes asquint and pleased—
but without praise, as always.
We have found our simple way
near to this earth and all its beasts,
learning a common dialect
that speaks, ultimately, in our bones.
Blazing summer between calves,
grazing our world
with clean water to drink.
Dogs bark into the early morning blackness,
up-canyon scent of something feline, half-bayed
young lion in the oaks to rock piles arched—etched
in their minds, they become a pack of oddities
standing-off coyotes, rousting coons from the garden,
escorting possums and skunks—we know their bark.
Your Beagle inheritance, inside fat, old and waddling,
following his nose to new frontiers beyond a life
on the couch, instincts fired to chase and bay
sharp claw or teeth he’s never dreamed before,
barks in his sleep—deep furrows in his derrière.
The dark stranger, jumpy, blockheaded Queensland
slinks and investigates the far water trough
every evening for smells—fell out of a cowboy
pickup and moved-in waiting to be found
likes his soft outside bed more than anything. Just
how they admire your Border Collie Jack-the-Good-Dog
keeps them lined-out circling the house.
When god visits us he sleeps
without a clock in empty bird nests.
– Jim Harrison (“The Little Appearances of God”)
We give ourselves away
perhaps too generously
in poetry, leave bare
the tree, its cankered burls
we’ve grown to live with
season after shorter season
to a southwest wind
before the storm
leaves us clean
once more to dream
the winter long
of green—yearning for
between each heartbeat
of littered pages—
we give ourselves away
to open space, to all
the new and wild beginnings
we’ve yet to see
until we learn to live in trees.
Posted in Photographs, Poems 2014
Tagged bird nests, birds, Dry Creek, Jim Harrison, photographs, poetry, rain, weather, wildlife, woodpecker, writing poetry
The trailing end of a storm front that brought heavy rains to the Pacific Northwest lingered along our Sierra Nevada foothills all of yesterday, keeping temperatures in the mid-70s beneath dry, but fairly constant, cloud cover. The below-60° chill lasted well into the morning, a winter feel that made us want a fire. A near-perfect day as Robbin was playing and singing a Nanci Griffeth song in the other room while I was at my desk.
With the weather change, testosterone levels down at the bull pen (Go Giants!) have elevated a notch leaving me substantial fence to fix after they ostracized a young bull into our buffer zone between the cows and calves. Though he was the loser, he had found his way to the cows nevertheless, 30 days early — leaving a another job for today after we finish feeding.
The Internet weather prognosticators are still holding to fair chance of a 1/2-inch rain for Halloween:
Until then, we wish it would rain.
Blue Oak mama,
belly full of young dryads—
let the dancing begin.
Heron ripped from the sky,
gray feathers hard ground—
an eagle’s trail remains.
Posted in Photographs, Poems 2014, Ranch Journal
Tagged birds, Drought, Dry Creek, Golden Eagle, Great Blue Heron, haiku, photographs, poetry, weather, wildlife
Is it not by his high superfluousness we know
– Robinson Jeffers (“The Excesses of God”)
A boy goes outside looking for adventure
on new ground, catching disappearing glimpses
of her skirts through the trees, and he is ready
to tame the West where there are no rules—
ready to leave his mark upon the landscape.
After a lifetime, all the hackneyed, black
and whited-hatted heroics sound like the same
song, boom or bust flashes in the pan
that end badly, sadly leaving her abandoned
flesh as landmarks in a state of disgrace.
An old man goes outside looking for other
frontiers to get lost within, to follow wild
details that teem with heart in all things—
hawk and stone, tree and grass—to be assured
of the rainbowed superfluousness of his God.
Remember when it used to rain
and we made clouds of our own,
when the dryads played quietly
upon the dampened dust beyond
the bare boughs of oak trees?
The earth came alive with birdsong,
hawks soared in circles crying
with delight and we watched—
once again believing in deities.
Posted in Photographs, Poems 2014
Tagged birds, Drought, Dry Creek, dryad, dryads, oak trees, photographs, poetry, rain, water, weather, wildlife
We know the ones up-close,
go looking when they’re missing
from the bunch lined-out on hay.
Most girls like their privacy,
find draws of rock and brush
that feel good, secure apart
from any other day. It changes
them, this first motherhood—
some find the carriage of a queen.