There’s a quietness about the river
broken by a random leap, splash of steelheads.
a prairie hawk loses a feather.
The natives drink a loud liquor
on their fishing platforms, dip nets
looking for fish who choose
to become parts of ceremonies.
The valley refracts strong light
that moves with the quiet.
Hills are made of dead gold,
skeleton orchards, lost spirit guides.
Bear scat litters small pastures
where the river overruns its banks,
forming shallow pools.
I’m cautious like a fool and listen.
The sun sets earlier here.
I knew that going in
I’m searching for rain or shadows
They only last for a short period.
My phone drops, small echo
Black screen on slick green moss
I yell for some reason
Maybe to prove I can make a sound
The sun throbs red…west…hovers
next to the peak of Mt. Hood.
Highway 14 yanks at me with its noise
where occasional deer lie still
on the shoulder of its pavement,
small trickle of blood in their teeth.
Dusk is as good as night here.
A wide emptiness sits over Spirt Lake from Harry’s Ridge to Harmony Lake Viewpoint. An emptiness of vast distance with stars or sun, clouds and wind…a series of personalities, always in the process of change, threatens to knock all thought out of you.
You search for the mountain. Some days it’s larger than any life you’ve ever known, yet appears accessible, as if you could simply stroll up its skin to the summit, say hello to the sublime. Other times it hides behind mist, playing hide and seek through clouds rolling over that same emptiness.
As you watch the emptiness, you notice a small herd of mule deer. They feed between the mountain’s ponds, little scoops in the earth, formed by the eruption, filled by endless springs, alive. The deer watch you with slow caution until you break into all thought and speak to them. With that sound, they move away from you, bringing that sky, the emptiness, back down to the ground. All thoughts are returned to you and the sky resumes its simple task of appearing, with regularity, over your head.
And it’s only when you get back home when you realize the reason you search for the emptiness. For you never knew you’d see the deer and you were aware that the mountain may be hard to see on some days. That same sky is inside you, full of stars or sun, clouds and wind…a series of personalities, always in the process of change. And it takes your own voice, one that you can clearly hear, to break into all thought, making that sky settle back down to earth.
Holding it in, close, became a strength
An essence, a nugget, bloom’s heart
Shaped by chinks, cracks, and splits
Of a shell you wished was a softer hue.
Relinquished, expelled, produced a body
The lucid form of your careful ambiguity
From a cold clay, carved and baked
An Image of remedy, poison, and sacrifice.