On Gold Ridge
(for the Roberts family)
I have been on steamships crossing cold depths where the horizon slurs away to a blue blur of what is left behind.
I have been in seas of tall grass that sway with the song of wind.
I have been bumped and roughed slowly in a wagon for days that are longer than the sky.
I have been across great mountains that jag the sky.
I have been to where the edge of the world rests and the sea tries desperately to reclaim it.
I have been up and over hills of redwoods and oak, looking for clearble land.
I have been behind a donkey pulling a plow slow through cleared fields until hope forms.
I have been knee deep in that new dirt, in the scent of it and the stain of it.
I have tenderly nurtured the seedlings when the rain worried, when the wind ripped off the sea onto the newly cleared hills.
I have watched seedlings widen into trees.
I have been the man who sits on the wide porch waiting for things to grow and open as the stars sharpen and come into view.
I have seen the hint of pink buds peek through like perfect tongues.
I have seen the hillside ignite in pink blossoms.
I have nervously paced the wooden porch as clouds formed on the horizon.
I have cursed the rain.
I have propped branches.
I have walked the rows like a child unable to wait.
I have readied the bins and ladders.
I have slept out under the tree just to keep the deer off.
I have picked the first perfect fruit.
I have tasted all of the sunsets and sunrises, the limestone studded hillsides, the tang of fog and salt, the rot of bay and oak and redwood on my tongue and it was good. It tasted like hope.
I have picked the apples until I feel asleep underneath the very tree I had bared.
I have lost myself in that shade and earth.