On the way up, I needed
words to calm myself,
on this winter day when smog
smothers the valley again, grays
the rocks half a mile away Take a different path.
where the creek shines like chrome.
All afternoon I explored the paths
webbing down to the creek
where pounding stones and trails
are all that remain of the tribe
that once settled on cleared,
gentle inclines. I ventured up
the steep slopes toward the top
to claim it as my own in the late Take a different path.
afternoon sun. For all of an afternoon
I trespassed, perhaps not meant
to look down anymore
on the grayness below that never
clears. At the edge of the cliff I lost myself
easily in the breath of trees and grasses,
above chemicals ruining mind
and body, knowing I cannot protect Take a different path.
these hillsides. Not long ago
the tribe was ravaged by sickness
and finished off by murder and
starvation, the air and water
and the remaining creatures no longer
belonging to the earth. I have always
kept some faith in my feet, and I hiked
past cattle that fled in absolute terror
of me or refused to budge
when I approached, all
without horns. Those animals Take a different path.
could have done me great harm,
but didn't. I have brought you here
to the edge of this cliff to remember
the valley as it was before the earth
was sold. I will remain
as a few magic words that fly
from this cliff over the valley
to write the language of flowers
|Baby Blue Eyes and Goldfields|
gone forever, to bear witness
for the air and water passing
through everything living, to ease
the desolation of those who believe Take a different path.
that all must wisely share the earth,
and although I may not even be meant
to be the voice, my words will take you
part of the way, past the last trees
to the rocks at the top behind which
a mother is lying beside her newborn calf,
a young bull grazing, so powerful
and unconcerned you might think them
godlike and pure, untouched Take a different path.
for generations, the huge horns
without garlands, without blood.