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.


River then bears the weight
rolling great stones along the bottom,
feeding fish on their path 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,
out onto the broad reach


where the bar meets the sea
in one undaunted wave
with stories of mountain,
crow and coyote, steelhead
and salmon given to the ocean,
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 will ripple in waves of white,
blue warmth open the mountain
to rivers bearing melted snow.
We’ll follow the water,
chase cloud shadows
and I’ll wear black feathers
when crow and I 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