\o7 Oregon Creek reaches far back into the hills.
Burned over twice, the pines are returning again.
Old roads twist deep into the canyons,
hours from one ridge to the next
The new road goes straight on the side of the mountain,
high, and with curves ironed out.
A single hawk flies leisurely up, disturbed by our truck
Down the middle fork-south fork opening,
fog silver gleams in the valley.
Camptonville houses are old and small,
a sunny perch on a ridge,
Was it gold or logs brought people to this spot?
a teenage mother with her baby stands by a pickup.
A stuffed life-size doll of a Santa Claus
climbs over a porch-rail.
Our old truck too, slow down the street,
out of the past--
It's all so old--the hawk, the houses, the trucks,
the view of the fog--
Midwinter late sun flashes through hilltops and trees
a good day, we know one more part of our watershed,
And have seen a gorge with a hairpin bend
and followed one more dirt road to its end.
Chilling, so put on jackets
and take the paved road out
Back to our own dirt road, iron stove,
and the chickens to close in the dusk.
And the nightly stroll of raccoons.
"What Have I Learned"
What have I learned but
the proper use for several tools?
between hard pleasant tasks
To sit silent, drink wine,
and think my own kind
of dry crusty thoughts.
--the first Calochortus flowers
and in all the land,
I point them out:
the yellow petals, the golden hairs,
Seeing in silence: never the same twice,
but when you get it right,
you pass it on.
Both poems from "Axe Handles" (North Point Press, San Francisco, 1983)