Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Mountain ranges always arrest me
Like long arms lunging
To gather me in and make me a prisoner.
So Sequoia was a natural
From the second I saw
Far enough
To take in the horizons –
Multi-faceted and sliced into slivers.
I became a happy hostage.

Icy wet tarmacadam
Defined the trip to the top,
As I swerved and swayed into the fog,
Driving my hope to break into clear air.
Then I turned to see the vapour from above:
Frosty pillows bulging
Like bumpy billowed binding -
As though I could roll across
If I was weightless –
Gleaming in the afterglow of a subdued sun
With neither time nor energy
To waste on heat.

The crags and crevices of steep black slopes
Stored sparkling snow in creamy caches,
Sending a shiver down my spine,
Reminding me of other alpine scenes,
Several continents
And many decades of memory away.
But Sequoia’s peaks
Protested their predestined paucity
In a blatant blast of biased
But plausibly prescient pleading.

Soon all around me were the giants -
Red and green and beyond big -
Their flared feet fixed
In the frosty flood of flurries
And set to stay stable as sedentary centurions
Or perhaps much, much longer.
Indifferent grey shade chilled the air,
Freezing precarious public paths
Made perilous by prints of frivolous feet.

Back down in the dampness of the misty air,
A sculpted coyote skulked and scarpered,
Its face full of something like guilt –
Culpability chiselled into its jawline -
Bashful blame blinking in its eyes –
Or perhaps it was facetious innocence.
Who knows how predators
Express such practical pretences?

At the bottom the stream
Roared into the town –
One of three rivers rushing loud -
As if already swelled by winter’s remnants.
Tourists ignored the frozen air
And snacked on ice cream.
Then they got warm by smoky fires
And sampled pizzas and tostadas,
Sipping sweet zinfandel from another valley.

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