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On White Rock

  В суету городов и в потоки машин                         Into busy cities with the flow of cars
  Возвращаемся мы — просто некуда деться! —      Is where we come back to — simply no choice! —
  И спускаемся вниз с покоренных вершин,             And we’re coming down from the heights we reached,
  Оставляя в горах свое сердце.                                Leaving our hearts in the mountains.

          Так оставьте ненужные споры —                   Leave off needless arguments —
          Я себе уже все доказал:                                   I’ve proved it all to myself:
          Лучше гор могут быть только горы,                Better than a mountain can be only mountains
          На которых еще не бывал.                              On which one hasn’t climbed.

  Кто захочет в беде оставаться один,                      Who wants to be alone in grief,
  Кто захочет уйти, зову сердца не внемля?!            Who wants to leave, despite the heart’s calling?
  Но спускаемся мы с покоренных вершин, —        We’re yet coming down from the heights we reached,
  Что же делать — и боги спускались на землю.     What to do — and even the gods descended to Earth.

          Так оставьте ненужные споры —                   Leave off needless arguments —
          Я себе уже все доказал:                                   I’ve proved it all to myself:
          Лучше гор могут быть только горы,                Better than a mountain can be only mountains
          На которых еще не бывал.                              On which one hasn’t climbed.

  Сколько слов и надежд, сколько песен и тем        How many words and hopes, how many songs and lyrics
  Горы будят у нас — и зовут нас остаться! —        The mountains awaken in us — and call us to stay!
  Но спускаемся мы — кто на год, кто совсем, —    But we’re coming down — some for a year, some for always,
  Потому что всегда мы должны возвращаться.       Because we always must return.

          Так оставьте ненужные споры —                   Leave off needless arguments —
          Я себе уже все доказал:                                   I’ve proved it all to myself:
          Лучше гор могут быть только горы,                Better than a mountain can be only mountains
          На которых никто не бывал!                           On which no one has climbed.
    ~ Владимир Высоцкий, «Прощание с горами»        ~ Vladimir Vysotsky, “Goodbye Mountains”

It’s usually cooler here
When the fog hasn’t yet settled over the bay
As the madrones shed their skins
Despite the morning’s mild bite
Or is that its kiss
That tempts them to revel nude in the touch of sun
Direct on their green sinews once the sky has cleared

The nearness of the busy valley
Belies this silence
Rippled only by cautious bird or coyote call
Or rush of hidden foliage whispering
Moved by wayward winds
As the tea trees scatter brown petals
Through the chilled drinkable air to meet
Somewhere destinies

No way exists to capture
The least of the subtle
Grandiosity surrounding this spire
Whether with brushes pixels film sculpture or words
Clouded dusk of pale grey-blue
Fades to umber sheen
Blended amid wispy cumulus born of open sky
Where thunderheads noiselessly form
Even as their shapes stalk the hushed landscape

The hundreds of varieties of trees and brush below
Playing shadows of ineffable motion one morning
A drizzly prism the next
When the meadows suddenly imbued in suspended magic
Unattainable as a fairy kingdom of impressionistic mountain haze on canvas
Seasonal softness of zephyr focus through dampness of dew
Mask the sounds of footfalls

So silent we walk
A mile and more of continuous knee-aching descent
Before reaching the creek that tickles the zigzag canyon
In mirth that becomes audible back at our perch above
So we hear its bidding to join the flow
Only after a drenching winter storm
When steam rising from the trees upwards past our windows
Gradually becomes one with brightening sky

Yes, we walk
Back along the ridge that rises mildly to become Bear Mountain
And descends again mildly above Bear Creek
Rising and falling in easy grades running the height between the counties
Along the entire length of the peninsula
Nearly to the City if we care to go that far
At that end the Golden Gate and open water
At this our humble abode over the drop from which I toss this glider
That’ll be out of sight by the time it descends to the treetops
If it ever does

Are we wise enough to live on rock
Or foolish enough to live on sand
This hard Butano sandstone into which I sink my roots
May be both and neither
As sacred ground
Suspended on vapor that surrounds this spot by morning’s suffused light
Revered by the Zayante tribe
All of whom according to legend were lifted bodily into spirit’s realm
From which to their chagrin they cannot move this house
From its moorings carved from the backbreaking rock
Their aspects hard baleful angry glowering
As I make chase with this lace
Of sage smoke
Tincture of black walnut
Essence of orchid and buckthorn flowers
Oil of frankincense lavender peppermint
Dissolved sprinkle of rose salt
Until they retreat to the larger bank
Of mists
Of magic
Of chill drifting past
Below this deck of solid redwood
That flexes with the seasons’ changing moisture
Still alive
What could be more sacred to this modern spirit than bowing
In repeating contemplative motion
In grace worthy of a T’ai Chi master
In utmost care to get full coverage
In application
Of solid-color resinous suspension
Out of deference to searing onslaught of summer sun
Deluge of winter storm
That brings misty ascension

We were called here
Yet how often we think of places we once knew
Foreign now to them
No more than dreams
Ours and theirs
We comprehend
Only the uphill rain as the glass doors thrust like subwoofers
Only the bobcats cougars foxes seeking handouts or quick rodents
Either the two-legged or four-legged rodents will suffice
Only the daylit circling birds of prey and carrion fowl
Only the twilit bats wooshing by our faces
Only the marine fog we observe rising higher each morning
Until one grey day there’s nothing visible beyond the deck rail
But the fast-fading tea tree branches
Alone amid swirling nothingness at the universe’s end
Where we’ve been left adrift
Upon this intangible suspension

For all we can tell
There’s nothing but here
No spite dignity pride humility
No responsibility authority respect
No difficulties achievements surrenderings
No regrets apprehensions gifts
No opportunities
To perturb the fluffed shrouded silence
But the light region overhead
Appearing sleek with promise
To within the hour’s crescendo of light become a blaze of sun
Breaking over this ancient uplifted chunk of sea floor
Effortlessly guiding the fog
To recede
To its roots
To the mildly wavy bay
As the sweet pea vines reach with their pods
And masses of purple flowers
Through the renewed warmth of the softly breaking day
Exultant to the last
Misty swirlings
Breaking into seeds
Flying out across accepting loose mounds
Already prepared for them by expectant gophers
An occasionally missed one sprouting to restart the process

It’s not easy
The awareness
Commanded by this solitary height
Weighted with visions all too real
Too nightmarish
Do we see too far
Across the vastness of these hills
Until nothing’s hidden
Not the overwork and overplay
Of these zombie hordes
Riding suicidal bicycles fast through the blind curves of routes hidden in the woods below
Having fun dammit
Not the lost sense
Of timing of turned leaves
Now that the seasons here have cooled
Thanks to the nearby ocean’s changes
As southward currents along this coast are chilled
By melting polar ice
Not the young men in that town yonder whose lights wink at us at dusk
So many right down there
Strong of limb and begging for handouts
Since who works hard for underemployment
Only to be defrauded taxed sued rejected feminized saddled with hidden fees and costs unable to afford
A better life
Not the forlorn past with its souls we’ve left in pain
Both abandoned and ever present
Not their persistent reaching for the light we’ve brought
Out of reach to this distant peak
Not their dragging themselves
Closing until the quiet footsteps of their emissaries have formed a trail around our home
Visible in satellite imagery
With relentless crazed energy
Not the skunks we summon forth with tails turned
To protect us from the sensate horrors we’ve loosed to even now scale upward
Leaving our shame reeking fouler than ever
Not the sound of the distant chainsaw by which a path
Somewhere right down there
Is opened to admit all the madness
Unfettered and rapturously outraged
Rising in torrents of confusion
Building to terror
Desperately screaming
With agonized slowness
A cacophonous orchestral thrill of rushing wind sliding rocks flailing trees
Nature’s catharsis crashing upon us with this horrible storm
Hurling marsupials and ocean spray and whistled distant melodies past our throbbing windows
Screaming wild wicked curses with lusty blast of heft and thick whipping gust
Of soaked green viscera
Gloriously slashing whitewash insanity erupting at all sides
While close by the fire we huddle
This house rocking about us like a ship on hard breaking waves
Slowing, languishing
Lulling us into the tormented sleep of drowned exhaustion
From which we wake long after dawn
To look out through torn banks of clouds over the ragged landscape
The world’s cleansed enormity glittering in droplets staring back at us

How ephemeral is life
How permanent
For ages before this body’s come
And further ages after it’s gone
The mountain’s contemplating
The life it’s carried
Throughout its existence
And will sustain
Until it’s gone
The creatures
Who make it
I can stand
Huddling no more
I won’t do it anymore
In the next obscene tempest I’ll revel
Shove aside the quaking glass
Stagger wild-eyed into the thrashing sheets of the rejoicing maelstrom
Let it burst over me under me through me in pitch black rage
Let it spear me deeper and deeper till the tempest’s heart is one with mine
Let it scoop me twirling heels over head and back upright
My mildly wavy hair drawn straight out inundated
Pummeled matted flipped plastered twisted flattened
And again

Anxiety has abandoned this precipice
As slicing wind and bullet hail rip clothes skin shoes
Rendering me nude
Soaking me through through through till I’m too heavy to be blown from the sandstone moorings
Of my deeply aching arching roots
By even the most ferocious of heaves
Of the maddened nightmare I embrace
Willingly as any other live flesh flexing all through the insane howling darkness
All around me woody in and under my sodden feet
And I’ll laugh
My breath rippling in heady waves of mirth
Even as the overwhelming fury and shock subsides
Even as clouds thin and mist fades
Even as the sun returns to light the expanse of planetary surface that stretches forth
Even as I can’t be displaced
Even as I sprawl soaked to my green sinews
Still laughing
At the meaningless business of meaningless humans shuttling meaninglessly beneath us
At the insidious joke played on all of us by the fierce nature around us
At how none of us comprehends even a hair’s breath of the vast impossibility that is our world
My hair waving mildly
Not in obstinacy or spite
But because that’s how it is
As if nothing had changed except
Oh yes
I’ll still be laughing into the boundless face of it all
Like never before

When we ask why we’d ever go back
Trade this wild nature for waiting haste lines exhaust impatience
Longer than the bare adrenaline-sloshed minimum time required to get our fill of what supplies we need
The answer’s always the same
So we stop asking
At some point as the firs whisper among themselves
The chill of the soporific air brushing their needles
They amusedly discuss us
And maybe today they’ll conclude a thing or two
About who we are and what we’re doing here with them
In this misty ascension

Whatever they may say
I’ve at last found my home here
Wherever I may go
I’ll always find my heart here
Whatever may occur
This is where I’ve been guided
And though I sometimes come down
For awhile to see you up close
I yet stand atop this mountain
Bringing its spirit with me
Transforming and transcending
My roots can never be torn out

Thanks always returns

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