River Story

From a cleft in sharp rock
in the high country
water emerges from the mountain
to shine on lichen and wet a small stream
where swifts and marmots drink.


Gathering strength and falling,
brown rocks glisten, birds gather,
fish appear in circling eddies,
one stream reaching into another,
merging in deep ravines
to fall out over stone ledges
alive with sunlight and oxygen
into the confluence.


Now river bears the weight,
rolling great stones along the bottom,
feeding fish on their many paths home
with herons tall and brooding along the banks.
Hawks circle above the broad stripe of water,
the grasslands alive with rich bottom.


Joined and joining, slopes easing
until the broad flats of sand and silt
where the original people once lived.
Beside painted rock and towering fir,
between city walls and tall glass spires,
out onto the broad reach
miles from shore to shore


where the bar meets the sea
in one ever-changing wave,
towering against the tide
with stories of mountain,
crow and coyote, steelhead
and salmon given to the ocean
with the joy of salt and sunlight
ravenous for all the river will tell.





Earth Deep Sighs

Open as the sea to the broad morning
the sky breaks out in turquoise blue.
Swifts rise and fall, whirl and turn.
Dolphins fish the tideline,
dorsals arcing black against gray water.
Camas wave in bright lit purple
touched by the early breeze.
They live within the tide,
trill through the forest,
seen and unseen
beneath spring green grass,
singing the song of daylight
as the ebb tide rushes south
and earth deep sighs
her born again glory.





Black Feathers

With the sun bright as June,
the land drying but still green,
I’ll launch into the open sky,
find an old crow to hunt with me
and explore the rooftops.
Clouds ripple in waves of white,
blue warmth opens the mountain
to rivers bearing melted snow.
We’ll follow the water,
chase cloud shadows,
maybe visit the sea.
The window is open,
the air alive and cool.
I’ll put on my black feathers.
Crow and I will hunt.





We’ll Go Down Singing

The Hollywood cowboys
maybe a few of the real ones
in their big hats and pistols
would go down shooting.
The rangers I know slog
through mud and loneliness,
blanketed by suffering.
Yo y mis amigos
ride the fence lines,
wander into the untamed,
watch shooting stars
and walk through deep snow
to climb the big trees.
You won’t see us in bright lights
nor on the front page.
If you look we won’t be there
unless you stretch your sails
or challenge the mountain.
Listen in the moonlit dark
and you’ll hear us in the distance
calling out like night owls,
determined to go down singing.



photograph by Peter Castonguay


Songs of Earth

There is only today,
really just this moment
of gray cloud and May green
as tall trees luff in the breeze.
From our hidden core
rung tight with years
we feed new growth,
tender leaves open
and breathing.
The touch of life upon us
we struggle and strive
and move toward light
while still we sing.
Our roots release
into the high top
the songs of earth,
the mortal cries
of what must pass,
our unspoken joy
yet rising.




Soon We’ll Cross

Bent over in spring rain
the hill is steep,
climbing from river
to promontory rock.
Bowed but not broken
I keep inside my coat,
one foot in front of the other,
absorbed by difficulty,
treading on memories
and lost hope
but continuing.
On the wind blown top
the trees grow thick,
low to the ground
in facing gusts,
yet from here
the river stretches
wide to the west
where the gorge opens
to the welcoming sea.
Looking far brings peace,
healing to these sore eyes,
knowing the distance
will soon be crossed
and the home we’ve sought
just there on the horizon.




To Seek the Shining Face

Fishermen troll along the shore,
lines down in a cleft below the sea
where otters swim sleek and mercurial.
Seals bob along, slow and patient
as I sit above the tide watching,
thinking of Jupiter’s fiery light
and the night song of trees.
Daylight is too rational, too stamped by time
to go below and look for treasure
in the soft beauty of the land, the mystery of the sea.
Yet I will go, loosening the jacket of the known
to swim the depths for something lost
on the edges of memory. Like fishermen I troll,
slicing slivers of soul on a sharp steel hook,
dropped with the faith of all who’ve gone before
to seek the shining face beneath deep waters,
the heartbeat of God within the pulsing earth.





Place at the Table

I disturbed the geese,
two of them apart from the flock
standing in purple camas,
complaining in goose talk
as they flew off across the bay.
Alone now except for the swifts
and the calm water of slack tide,
the first breeze that comes with the sun
lightly stroking the water.
The green world rises with fearless grass,
the color purple splashed along the rock
in the fullness of spring.
We’re all guests at this feast,
tasting again the beauty of the beloved,
feeling our way like the searching tide
into the deep clefts of the stony shore,
finding our place at the table,
thankful to be alive.





Morning Breeze

You don’t have to correct the world
nor the billions of people.
The stars were placed long ago,
the weary moon constant in its track.
You just may have to let go
and give yourself
to the soft morning breeze
with its gentle hint of rain.





To Join the Living

Spring is rising
as mountain snows melt,
seeking out what lingers
of melancholia and fear
stored in winter dark.
We launch into the river,
skirting between freighters,
under steel web bridges,
finding our pace
in the wind driven chop.
Time to come out
and feel the urge
of falling water,
the hot touch of sun,
to join the living
as our old friend waits
in his ice clawed cave
brooding over December.



Watercolor by Eilish Hynes