Across the Alvord

We scurried around
staying busy while winter
passed over the valley
and capped the mountains.
Warm air invited crows
to mass beside the river,
street people to flourish
in makeshift tents.
Even the rain let up
so no one complained
except a few old men
who remembered snow
and the way the great Columbia
used to flow from Canada.
They talked of beaver and wolf,
rivers filling the Coastal Range
and along the foothills of the Cascades
floods that stretched over miles
bearing silt from massive glaciers.
How fox would patrol the banks
and lynx screech unseen on the ridges.
The old men bagged groceries,
pumped gas for Costco
then with a grubstake
left for the Idaho
and across the Alvord
into the mountains of Nevada.
We won’t see them
until the snow gods return
when people tire of hot air
and pray once more for winter.



photograph @flaneur1874


11 Responses to “Across the Alvord”

  1. Sigridh Kiersch says:

    Beautiful story-telling…it feels so familiar, not because you have told it before, but because of the archetypal elements… I remember, even though I wasn’t there…

  2. Sandy Brown Jensen says:

    This poem has a lot going on it; I like the varying time trajectories—present, deep past, past, future. I’m not that old, and I remember a wetter, richer Pacific Northwest myself. Your details really bring those memories to life as if they were most ancient rather than scarily recent.

    I’m headed for the Alvord myself the last week in March if we get an early spring (we got snowed out last time and drove home over the Blues. At the summit, the snow cleared and there were bluebirds everywhere in the pines).

    I’ll let you know if I see the “old men from Costco with a grub stake.” Or is that me?

  3. Eric Dunn says:


  4. David Barnes says:

    Great poem Don. Highly reminiscent of a way Gary Snyder occasionally views and writes – but there are many ways, and this is totally completely you – and me! Thank you.

  5. Jude Blitz says:

    Your work touch my greatest longings again and again.
    I have prayers for winter and wet.
    Daily longing for Nature’s wild presence.

  6. Veronica Lim says:

    In reading this poem, I felt like I was reading an excerpt from a book, and I am ready for more! The photo is a fabulous accompaniment to the story, draws me right in. Thank you, Don

  7. Tom Figel says:

    Don, a great ending, and familiar men. Thanks.

  8. William Comer says:

    When my kin call out to me, touching my hearing, hoping that is enough…will it be? Can I hold them? Will I myself endure?

  9. What pictures you paint, my friend….

  10. Edward Haimes says:

    Don, Your words are beyond word, but rather of experience. Of sight and smell and touch and sound and above all of memory of rich experience, of place and time, of people and event. Thank you for bringing so much back to me.

  11. Diana Durham says:

    Beautiful, makes me feel the vast invisible as well as visible presence and reality of the land.

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