The deer in that beautiful place lay down their bones:
I must wear mine.
– Robinson Jeffers (“The Deer Lay Down Their Bones”)
Secreted within steep brush and granite
to browse the fresh and tender Buckeye leaves,
the fragile innocence of deer seems tame—
safety but a bounding leap away.
Were we so unengaged to see ourselves
as novelties, we might pause more often
to look out upon the urgencies of men
and women inventing new shenanigans
to keep us shackled to our egos
as redundant and unnecessary weight—
were we so rational. How we envy deer
their shrouded bowers where they can feed
themselves. Nearly as free as deer
in the rocky cliffs above, the doe can see
the calves we have been looking for.
On the weather map
watching the storm slide
slowly down the Sierras,
a green right arm wraps
around San Jose,
headed toward this warm
midsection, and I wonder:
with an upper cut of cold?
—wet inch down already,
as if the gods are on a mission
to treat us squarely—
as if there is a plan
or just random rolls
we learn to adjust to
moment after moment
never seen before!
Between here and the road, the intermittent
sound of summer cars across blond pastures,
fat black cows grazing, lazing in shadows—
a gentle world where coyotes pass and pause
for a squirrel, a bobcat trains her babies,
and crows raid bird nests for their own.
Snake bit, your mother’s inside dog is gone
to meet her, yet I still leave the sticky door
ajar, listen while I dress for his awakening.
Between here and the road, we see what we want,
watch naked skeletons of oaks come alive, and
long-limbed sycamores dance in an orgiastic tangle.
We can feel these hillsides breathe, hear
the heartbeat underneath. Not since the natives
has this place told so many stories.