52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

23. Kearsarge Pass Trail



Over the first saddle, a flatter place
under trees blunting sunlight, what
I’d not yet in recollection seen

crossed the path before us, walking with
a quail’s gait, or a pheasant’s,
somewhere in size between the two,

duller in color, brown, gray.
I later learned it was grouse, common
to the Sierra, but new to me then.

In the cool of shade shared
by the pond on our left,
greenly mirroring trees, I said,

Wait, don’t scare it, what is it,
I don’t know what it is.
My boy, over his nausea

and altitude-inflicted headache
by this time, said after I said
what a treat it was to see a thing

for the first time, Maybe if I lived
as long as you and never saw
a bird like that before I’d also be

excited about it, like you are.
The creature fled. I squatted down
to put my pack back on, cool and damp

on my shoulders, and grabbed his, too,
so he could walk unhindered.
We eventually came to Flower Lake.





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