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Opal Creek

ISSUE:  Spring 1988
Scrabbling up and across
hot, acrid basalt slides
we reach the brushy forest edge
breathing hard
and stop
to look down
on the rocky basin
eyes quivering around its hot edge
embroidered with orange vine maple
and turning, looking up
there’s the ridge where the old road lies
it never seems close
until we finally reach it
after climbing through cedars and creeks,
wild rose, rhododendron,
devil’s club and silver fir.
Hiking for no reason but to be out here
we wonder, late in the day,
if that is a good reason
until on the old road
we find fat, deep purple huckleberries
still on the bush in late September
despite all the bears whose purple scat
tells the tale of days spent eating
their way down the ridge road to winter.
Meanings never enter the mind
as this fruit enters the mouth
and heaven seems no more
than the taste of fat, purple berries
after a long hike
when this big land and our sweaty small bodies
join to swim in a delicate, ripe sphere.


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