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Point of Departure, By JANE MILLER

March 06, 1994

We never thought pleasure in the

detached world

would be as much as a grain of salt or

sand.

When we were young, yesterday,

one foot after another on your day off,

we went straight from the movies to the

seashore

knowing art and life were separate,

friendly,

and if the streamwater wasn't fit to

drink--

I cup my hands now, thinking of love--

it was cool and a symbol, music came

from it,

and the elk poisoned themselves only a

little--

after a hundred years' absence a small

price.

This late in the day,

a cliff and waterfall below us in heaven,

elk ghost the laurel and chaparral

of the Point Reyes coast,

fogged in, an adaptation for our time

as one might imagine an air-conditioned

desert

to have been.

We are saturated in thought

as once with light

anyone could walk six miles easily on

the sky road.

Still equal to the life which called them

forth,

the tule elk churn opposite the blocked

sun,

freak children

of the universe, feeling its size as

comprehensible.

No relationship beyond

that though--

the California shore is alone on earth

along the San Andreas fault,

as a snake on my property once

gone has a presence.

Life only imagined hurts,

that's why we're still here in the painless

eucalyptus air,

invisible, night and day invisible. We're

left

with some things hardly alive

among gods, questions,

awe--

how is my life with a stranger from this

world?

From "August Zero" by Jane Miller. (Copper Canyon Press: $11.) Reprinted by permission.

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