Where I rode my bike on hot days on the rough red road
Where my mother saw a rattlesnake as thick as her wrist
Where I jumped in the slimy duck-shit filled lake during the summer of confusion
Where we ran naked in the rain on a winter day, leaping over pokey branches
Where you hiked and became silent after I left you behind
Where the father of our friend died suddenly of a heart attack
Where my grandfather put his boat into the Bay –
A white boat, with blue trim, he carved the oars himself.
In his white hat he would drift among the whitecaps,
Singing silent songs, pretending to be Irish.
We all thought he would die like this, drift out with the tide.
Instead he died indoors by a window,
on top of a flower-print blanket, in November, laughing.
Where the land is ripped open by the water blasts of gold-miners.
Scars exposed to the sky. And tell me again, what were they rushing for?
Here, in fourth grade, I felt the first pangs of love.
No, I will not listen, I will go in anyways, I'll climb the fence,
flip off the Ranger, and I'll take the rich black mud
and make sculptures of shrunken heads with sharp shells for teeth
and stones for rolling eyes, with wild seaweed hair and tongues lolling out,
and leave them in a row of defiance for everyone to see.
Every Wednesday after school in 11th grade, we climbed the four and a half miles to Gunsight Rock. From there, we could see out across the Sonoma valley, past our small provincial city, to the distant, sparkling, Pacific. The fog came in, we got drunk on wildflowers, covered ourselves in mud, and we shouted, amazed at the richness of the land. We loved each other as men do.
Once, halfway up the ridge, I swam in an icy pool filled with Poison Oak branches. I became completely covered in a red rash, and my fingers involuntarily scratched my face and crotch and back for weeks. Every scratch was a blessing, each finger shouting, "Yes, you were there! Yes, you are here!"
But I want to know, how do you close a redwood tree? By what door?
The invisible one the size of a man, that is wherever you stand in front of it?
And how do you close a meadow? Will you close the North gate or the South gate or the gate by the winding stream?
And how will you close a hillside? Will you close the wide gate at the base or the small wooden gate at the nape of the neck?
And what door will you close in a desert boulder?
We will not be barred from our Synagogues.
And the Zen Buddhists will not climb the wall
but become the whole park from the other side by a switch of perception
And this will fling open the doors of every redwood tree
And all will be singing in strange tones.