Written at Mosier Creek falls (Pocket Creek park)
August 26, 2018 - for Writing Up the Gorge exhibit at Columbia Center for the Arts
The bunny in grey, invisible at dusk.
kicking up his heels, patching out.
He’s the newest quail family member.
Two dozen puffed-out bodies on spindly little legs moving in synchronicity in the yard.
Flitting and cooing
waves on the river of dirt - back and forth, like the tide
as they rustle for seeds and
play in the moonlight,
homesteading my yard.
Grey feral bunny, at home with his covey of quail.
They haven’t noticed my car inching up.
But then, oh no, a human!!! Quail chaos! Fly and flee!
Blood orange moon,
blazing through wildfire smoke,
hangs with his sky-blue friend,
the historic farmhouse.
Both, standing guard over quail and friends
before Mosier was Mosier.
Just down the street,
the flaxen glow of sunset.
Ancient, arthritic oaks
reach down with gnarled limbs
that sag and sway,
dusting the trail.
Disappear around the bend…
into the overwhelming baritone
of distant wind in trees.
Freeway noise fades into silence of thoughts
and secret spots.
The dachshund is restless,
his quivering nose explodes with adventure.
Wispy, whispering trails
call him to gallop;
while I sluggishly meander.
Just close your eyes.
A single, sudden, shattering sound overhead -
red tailed hawk.
Old beat-up farm Ford rumbles the distance.
dry-brushed onto red dirt hills.
Gold and brown, rust and orange.
The Mosier menopause.
The end of summer.
Dusty path rattles with
dried wildflower bouquets
that sway over that place where
the Mosier’s lie
alongside the Husky’s,
Melting headstones, rounded by rain since 1870
Like the cliffs
Like freckles on old backs.
A bend of the trail and
steep drop offs.
Plunging Gorge granite
where sharp winds blow
and eagles soar
eye to eye with you.
Watch your step here
or you’ll be laid here to rest with Mosier pioneers.
Splash and splatter
the stillness at your feet.
The waterfall percussion
the soprano staccato
the groundswell of sounds
from one to many.
Hypnotic aquatic symphony.
Mosier Creek falls.
Sparkly water draws you in -
take the plunge
into the abyss.
into deep, clear, ebony.
Big brown dog plunges into the mellow creek above the waterfall.
Dachshund wades in, fishing for sticks.
And I remember camping with dogs and kids
and secret hikes like this.
And here I am - half a century later.
Thank God, nature hasn’t changed much.
How many of us
dipped into life – this glistening pool - this wishing well?
Take the plunge here - it lasts a lifetime.
Waterfall dwindles to a ribbon by summer
but I have stood here, swallowed by the roar of spring
when thousands of gallons of snow and rain overwhelmed this vertical chasm.
Long green reeds and fall colored leaves
cling to the edges of a pond
right behind the plunge.
The quiet place,
calm before waterfall’s storm.
Ripples that chase each other in cross-hatch patterns,
change their mind and direction
and dream of becoming grown-up waves along
Sparkly watercolor flash light paintings.
Little girl lace, spiral ribbons, hypnotic patterns.
Branches dip and recede in the breeze.
Wind stops, and the art show with it.
Smell of the creek.
Fresh. Sharp. Earthy overtones. With a long, smooth finish.
Tangle of deadwood and decaying leaves and
splotched tree branches –
some, round and smooth,
some, rough like elephant skin and
some, with birchy, flaky freckles
dangling over ponds like postcards.
Is that mangled, tangled mound of wood chaos
the gnome home of our neighbor beaver?
I want to slip down shiny black rocks
and fall head first into that sparkly pool of light
and forget all the changes that robbed my father of his memory
of such moments as these;
shared in the wilderness
when life would last forever and
day turned into night and
there was not a hint of falling apart in old age,
like crackly brown leaves.
Those leaves are rattling down already,
it’s not even Labor Day, and they’ve already given up.
With their decomposing branch friends.
Clinging to cliffs - the improbable, brave stand off.
Holding back water
before that life-changing ebony plunge
from this moment
waterfall in between.