Primeval Woodlands


A cute girl, possibly
thirteen, legs crossed,
eyes closed, twenty feet
from the Kings River,
remained totally unaware
that my friend and I
were gawking
at her. Grabbing
a smooth stone, the length
of an egg, my friend
lifted his arm, muttering
curses at her, and I
lunged at his arm. Two
years older and stronger,
my friend just frowned
in disgust and dropped
the stone, stumbling off.
That girl never stirred.
I never got the nerve
to ask her what
she was doing. I finally
stalked away, infatuated,
never to see that girl
again. Cross-legged
by the Kings, almost
forty years later,
close to the spot where
she had meditated,
I remember a photo of me
and my friend holding up
with pride a necklace
of fish. That same
morning, forty years
ago, I had spotted
a car in the depths
of the river and shouted
for them all to come see.
No matter how excitedly
I pointed, none of them
could perceive the faint
shadow of the car
beneath the glittering
surface of the water,
so no one believed me.
Our fathers both dead
a few years later,
my friend also gone
to some other state,
the hood of the car
has surfaced,
caught on a rock, tilted
like a stiff, flat tongue.
I close my eyes and empty
my mind, hearing the water
rushing by and then
nothing at all, everything
gone but my awareness
of the void. But then I feel
and see a sun in my heart
and a golden-equal armed
cross on my forehead--
They would not
have believed that either.
I open my eyes, surprised
that I had so quickly
forgotten the people
and the river as I
gaze at bending reeds
And slippery stones
And rushing water....

Meet a shaman on the trail.
Find a rough road.