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Snyder's Songs of the Wild and Lessons They Teach

November 28, 1986

"So Old--"

\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?

The moments

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,

it's spring.

I point them out:

the yellow petals, the golden hairs,

to Gen.

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)

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