Snap Shot: A Bend on the Yuba River
Water braiding down her wrists,
She spills lengths of the river at her lips
Just to keep up with it.
Others, downstream, kneel on boulders
Calling through the roar,
Grouped in twos and threes,
All of us drenched with it.
Still Life with Water Glass
Mercury, silver, lead of course, selenium and chlorine,
DDT, dioxins, PCBs,
The harmless (or not so harmless) fluorides,
Freon from a cast-off Frigidaire,
Sulfuric acid, sulfate, sulfites too in phantom traces,
Admixed to a spectral base
Of cellophane and fluorocarbons
From fifty million hair-spray cans a year
All dance together in a dark conjunction,
Spin tonight without even a ripple
Treading with me to your bedside table,
Who brought this glass while you were fast asleep.
It’s some great weight to have all this on loan, Sir –
Wheat fields breaking west from state to state
Bent down by thirst, stripped of lakes and ice caps
Backed up on bedded rivers drained and caved,
While mule deer patrol a hot Sierra
That half a life ago lay packed in snow.
All spring we set out starts in narrow rows,
Each weighing a half-ton on the palm –
Heavy futures riding on the outcome,
As promise rides the razorbacks of trout
And memory-laden salmon hurdle ladders
Bursting with orange eggs fatter than tears.
It is a lot to have upon one’s platter –
This lack, these heavy absences gone missing
In the blindness of our want. Despite my part
In all this, which is certain, I still do hope
One day to see Your face, if just an instant,
Cloudy brightness freshening our canyon
The way after hard rains it used to do.