Blue Notes


Chinese houses are sprouting on north-facing slopes
and in shady washes, sharing their niche with fairy lanterns,
Ithuriel's spears, larkspur, while twenty miles away, the skeletal
steel frame of a children's hospital sprouts on the bluffs,

on land donated by the developer, rising above condemned
vineyards and pasture, a "behemoth of bad planning"
inducing the growth of a new city through the expansion
of one clogged artery of traffic just north of the river.

In fields near the hospital, weeds still
hide mice and rabbits, obscuring coyotes
in the dim halls of orchards, releasing air
into an ocean of smog. I had almost forgotten

that you can stand in an ocean of breath
and merge your breath with brilliant tribes
struggling into the sun, that you can sit by a creek,
no more than the stillness of the grass, sensing

the timeless spirit at the root of form, forgetting
your face as the battered moon rises again above
the evening hills. Golden eagles sliced through the air
side by side, just above me, down through the wash,

swooping between the trees and gliding out
over the valley until I lost them in the clouds,
and an hour later, as I scrambled up the slope,
the eagles stepped out of the oaks above me

and floated--almost large enough to carry
me away--gliding higher until they were specks
and then gone. Sure of our end, I wanted
to sleep forever in the woods, the valley

stretching out for miles in the haze below me,
the landmarks strangely small, the strident whistle
of the titmouse calling me back, a network
of trails linking the creeks and woodlands--

still pristine (except
for the cattle), the trails webbing
the entire range blocked by pockets
of development, the land owners all

connected. I teetered on the edge
of that high slope, the city so obscured
by smog I couldn't see it--perhaps
gone a century--a web slightly billowing

in the breeze, and I chased a meadowlark
at the edge of a large flock downhill,
a squirrel scurrying over its own thin trail
from one rock pile to another, ants slowly

discarding husks from their tunnels. Overhead,
a flock of acorn woodpeckers set up an alarm, cackling
maniacally as I passed through their territory,
the trail weaving into a clearing where I found

a pounding stone, one mortar sprouting grass,
the other black with stagnant water, the roots
of a buckeye breaking the rock in two.
I followed every path by the creek, finding

more pounding stones wherever I turned,
clearly in view of each other or parts
of the village on both sides of the creek.
That day I felt a radiance that remains

in the village sites, the mortars healed over
and sprouting grass, others collecting rain,
most of the house pits quilted by cow pies
sprouting living jewels, the hillsides

nearby torn and washed away, streaked
with ochre, yellow, black, one pit--
with a fence post in the middle dangling
from a strand of barbed wire--so deep

I could not see the bottom, another filled
with lime-green water, the slopes
near the mines scored by mule and horse paths.
That day I lost myself on the trails,

and when I stepped across a creek,
I had a vision of the harmony
of things--a golden, equal-armed cross
behind manifestation blazing

in my inner eye as though it were always
just beneath the outer robe of concealment,
the energy radiant in each leaf and petal--and I
had taken just enough steps to see it.

A massive oak kept reaching higher
within an infinitely vast fabric of energy,
the sun, between its branches,
still weaving tapestries of flowers.

Open a curtain.
Follow an ancient trail.
Play a game.
Find a wedding bower.