By Peter Jensen
You start viewing at the top with the Star People and meditate on the mandalas clockwise. Prismacolor.
October 12, 2008
Today the last outdoor lunch
Under the broad leaf maple –
green-gold leaves littering our deck.
No one stops them.
Today we dug the last of the potatoes,
pulled the shivering tomato plants
and rescued the pimento shaped
red orange beauties – tonight’s dinner.
The tomatillos we never planted
they crashed the party
welcome guests but very late arriving with
green striped suits and parchment jackets.
Today we walked
the Cedar River Trail
and smiling dogs
with black lips.
The Cedar River runs clear
now green, now gold.
Puffballs – the river’s fall companion
white delicacy in the grass.
We walk until
it really is too cold.
Inside the cedar fire warms our home
with fragrance and with heat.
Dinner is soft acorn squash,
creamy yellow in a hard green shell
heaped with puff balls,
the pointy red tomatoes on the side.
The cedar fire is banked
Tonight will be first frost.
The black lipped dogs smile,
turn tightly, then sleep.
We could call this, The Day Kendall Found A Magical Pool at the very top of a razor ridge. She was walking carefully, placing her feet and looking down. The rock face on one side, a mountain face dropping, dropping on the other. A tiny pool in a crevice at the side of a mountain goat trail. She spotted what I am reasonably sure few adults would have the eyesight to see – crystals scattered like diamonds under a foot of water, in the deep shadow of the undercut cliff face. “Grandma, grandma, come here! Look at this!” The almost 11 year old hand opened to show me pure white dazzling crystals, the size of almonds. I doubt she could have been more excited if they were diamonds rather than quartz crystals.
So there we were, rock hounding on the edge of the world. The Cascades spread out in a 360 degree panorama, one range in etched relief with jagged black mountains glazed with the first white snow. The guy with the rock hammer pulled out sample after sample – chunks of volcanic rock embedded with swaths of crystals. The man thought about how exciting it would be to take them to the next rock club meeting. The little girl, how thrilling to show her geologist father and the best ever new specimen to add to her rock collection. I can relate. I think of another time, another curly headed dark haired little girl with a passion for rocks. It must be the DNA.
When I was a child
The early autumn moon rose like a Silver Fox
Over the distant black cliffs
Of the Columbia Plateau.
Down in our Wenatchee Valley
So many apples fell to the ground:
Winesaps and Winter Bananas,
Red and Golden Delicious,
Jonathans and MacIntosh–
Every May blossom
A handful of late summer crunch
Juice from every petal,
Every grain of pollen to the hive.
Up on the Plateau
The unresisting wheat
Broke like surf behind
The combine’s simpler blade.
Silver Fox, you
Who run backwards through time, tell me
Of this year’s fruit,
The bushel yield of grain.
What have you learned
From that old river of myth and blood,
Apples and wheat,
River of snowmelt and memory?
To Be Worthy
Muse of all Muses, my musing Dzonoqua,
Sleepy giantess, you stand like a cedar
In the cedar shadows, swaying
In your endless dream.
I cavort inside the fire’s light,
Cut capers, pass my hat:
Money for the monkey.
Sometimes you flare awake,
And I see your sunken eye pits
Whirl with stars, suns,
The slow cold spiral of distant galaxies.
I have seen you turn away and run,
Remembering your rich lodge
Hung with furs and fossils,
Basement caves and crystals,
The lost bears in the hot mist
Rising at the far end
Of your home meadow.
And I have followed you there,
Although there were times you captured me with a gesture
Beckoning me near,
My cautious approach,
Fire warmth dimming on my backside,
Then your thick, black fingers
Like beaver’s leathery paws
Closing on my shoulders,
Lifting me like a recalcitrant child,
Popping me in your burden basket with a smack
Of your bright red lips.
Jostled, scraped, bleeding,
I have been muted by your distances,
Unlocked finally, tumbled
Foolishly down among your riches,
One more toy on the floor.
I have seen the chief’s wealth you guard.
You have dressed me in my miniature
Button blanket set the cedar bark wreath
Upon my unruly curls: You have fed me
Wilderness in a stew of venison and drums.
Dzonoqua, you have tried to teach me that song
As the crying wild geese passed over and I have stood
And sung after them, understanding for a stanza
My place in the family of all who tell the story, wear the mask,
Dance the song.
Dzonquah, giantess, my captor and keeper:
Twist my wire arms and let them hold
Your necklace of shining pitch.