Inundation Zone of Proposed Dam


Cocking its black head, the angel calmly gazed
through underbrush, its speckled wings closed
on fire, the white breast feathers slightly
ruffled, aware that I returned its gaze,

both of us still, separated by a few twigs, until
it resumed rummaging noisily in dead leaves.
Trespassing in the angelic realms, like the angels
we were taking the breath of trees and flowers,

each species with its own piece of heaven,
a brown towhee leaping at titmice
that hid in mistletoe, then at goldfinches
which hovered in a panic, rootless yellow flowers,

returning to their stems after a few moments,
a flycatcher on a snag, butterfly wings extending
from its beak, the orioles streaks of flame
above the earth's tapestry of light--

goldfields interwoven with lupine and poppies.
You told me your dream of floating down river,
the boat suddenly swirling through white water
and just as suddenly slowing into a gentle,

sunlit rain which jewelled the strands of a spiderweb
strung between alder trees, where a kinglet flitted
from twig to twig, missing the web, a newt struggling
up slick rock and sliding down again, and a bullfrog

leaping at eyes floating above the water, vanishing,
and resurfacing by the bank, the kingfisher,
loud and persistent, protesting intrusion, perching
a moment behind sycamore leaves, then whirring

back and forth, taunting from a distance,
testifying as though it mattered, the bushtits
like leaves above the water blown
from one tree to another--the current

carrying you through one community
after another until the river
hardly flowed anymore,
a littered wastewater sump

for the filthy valley. Then, again
you found your friend and dragged him
to the bathtub, his skin blue, and all
you could do was wait to see if he would live,

but there was no fear, only a strange
radiance in the needle and the skin,
the gleaming drops plopping every few
seconds from the faucet as warblers flitted

in a tree outside. I remembered gliding
by the church we attended
the night we first rocked each other,
the tawdry street somehow radiant,

and I realized that I'd worked years later
as a janitor three blocks away, not far
from the market where we'd shopped
in some other life, our range finally

defined and still holding all the angels.
For you, I have made our dreams
one dream where the angels
never lose their connection

to the range of light, the cedar waxwings
above the still river pecking at seeds,
their faces masked, tails dipped in gold,
startled, and flying....

Open door number one.
Open door number two.
Open door number three.