52 SONGS

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

13. Short Eastern Sierra Poem #1


From memory, in no particular order, from years
driving to and fro along the 395:
The yellow dome in Olancha (maybe not Olancha
but the other outpost next to it) beside a dinosaur,
a motel, maybe; "Good Jerky" on handmade signs;
the mysterious portrait of horses on the billboard
just south of the Crystal Geyser plant;
the Alabama Hills west of Lone Pine east of Mt.
Whitney (which peak it is I can never identify) northeast
of Owens Lake, with more water than normal this year;
Independence and the earthquake and the historical marker
marking it; a turnoff and information station reserved for
an ancient bristlecone forest; the zig-zag up the mountain
spurring off Whitney Portal Road; Manzanar,
the barracks at Manzanar, the visitors center,
the remains of the Japanese garden; the herd of Tule Elk,
absent from view at designated wildlife viewing turnouts
in recent years, despite my eager scanning; Rovana,
with the first letters of its street names spelling out
Vanadium; Bishop south of it, and less south
the Paiute Palace Casino (tip: buy your gas here);
Round Valley (tip: stop at the vista point on your way up
and look); Tom's Place across from Sunny Slopes
below Rock Creek camping and Mosquito Flat
and Mammoth, where we went, behind which
my dog Dorcas had her last big outing, one that
probably was what did her in: After too many days
of too many miles in too much heat, she tried
to chase a deer, and her legs collapsed. I carried her,
my beloved, with my backpack full of gear
the last three miles of the hike to the car,
how I hope I'll be carried--metaphorically,
no, literally--when my body begins to fail:
to a familiar coach where awaits a bowl of water
a treat and a driver who loves me.

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