Just remembered that
trying to write meaningfully
is already a failure of trust;
just being awake here speaks
all the meaning there is,
the only must.
Fernandez Trail, Ansel Adams Wilderness
A cirque is a three-sided, glacier-carved bowl
that holds a high mountain lake that holds in its face
reflections of the sheered stones that make it so.
No one here says mountains don’t speak, nor lakes
whisper back—birds know, trees hear
pass on the lips of resident winds.
Our first backpacking trip of the season
begins at Clover Meadows in the high Sierra
at just over seven thousand feet,
a walk on the year’s longest day
that draws on all of our reserves, all of our resolve,
only to deliver a stunning display of stars
for a late night supper
and a long, dreamless sleep.
Lady Lake 8,500 ft.
Thresholds crossed are worlds re-seen
from places we’re often unaware we’ve arrived.
But not here. Unawareness has no place
in a place like this, where, having come,
being seen is a given, and being seen as having come
is itself re-seeing.
On the bluff above Chittenden Lake 9,400 ft.
The quiet founded in thin air and high thriving rock
is as complete a refuge as one will find, itself the answer
to the mystery—given all the effort, why we continue
to return, but to again be taken in.
Things that will last…
after Kenneth Rexroth
We spend our last day and night
at the Madera Creek junction,
where the Fernandez Trail meets
the Walden in the flat
among the lodge pole pines
at the end of a valley meadow
that runs aside the creek below
a towering volcanic formation
studded with twisted juniper pine,
a small meadow
traced with quivering aspen,
low-growing buckwheat, wild flowers,
butterflies and humming birds.
The creek is lined with willow and lupine
and filled with hungry trout.
But for the creek and woodpeckers
and when wind, the trees, it’s quiet.
How to be here is a matter of who you are.
The place absorbs all who come, goes on its own way
when we’re gone, needing no prophets to tell it so.
Some turns crinkle, even bind
just a bit, some go so smooth
the view is the only proof
of change—change being
the nature of nature, notions of sameness
are inherently false limitations
risen from simple inattention.
For lack of paper and brush,
that Zen-struck poet, Ryokan,
is said to have practiced calligraphy
in the air—sweeps of soundless poems
spewed out on the restless tongue
of wind-filled skies.
is the gift of recognition
Of most importance
is where the foot that’s risen
the third way
to the world and to what
it is waiting to be…
Skin, under the touch
of wind, of sun, under loving eyes…
The presence of turning
to another’s needs—having been useful…
The thought of the sound
of the grandchild’s voice, remembrance
of the name…
The glint of rising sun
bringing the final line of the poem
Sneaking out under the blaze of late afternoon sun,
ocean fogs run the length of the ridge,
white flags of promise of relief,
evidence of the possible
seeding shifting undercurrents, windows,
cupped and readied for release…