30 June 2012


Perhaps this is where it begins,
my creation myth:

under a sky too wide to fathom
in this valley, dwarfed by domes
where Muir walked like a god,
his hobnail boots striding up grey granite.
His figure appears briefly between the pines.

I sense the ghosts of his apostles,
an esoteric cult of bearded musky men,
wandering these woods,
and I wish the grace to walk among them.
These ghosts are not in limbo.
Rather, they choose this place, 
this rarified air, this heaven
where mortals like me strain for breath
and struggle to perceive fleeting visions.
Is it a delirious hallucination of desire,
the disciple who thinks herself ready to comprehend the teachings,
and yet knows, sadly, the limits of her understanding?
Or do I hear his words, spoken with a trace of Scottish brogue:

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

The images evaporate, leaving me to gauge faith
and I am drawn back to the ordinary among the rocks, 
squirrels as they chase and jockey and gather,
planning for what they can count on:
a long winter.
I, too, wish to seize this brief greening,
to gather seeds that will sustain, 
generating their own energy from sun and air,
knowing innately how to emerge from
this thin, less-than-fertile soil,
to bloom briefly, brightly.

I doubt my right to roam here, in this holy place,
unworthy to absorb his wisdom.
Yet if he strode into my camp,
I would take his hand and lead him,
with my humbled head low.
At the base of an unnamed fall on the Tuolumne,
I would remove his boots and woolen socks,
wash his feet and anoint them with cedar.

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