Just to go there and breathe that air and see that river silver through the valley until I’m within reach of that peace again with those people along those roads
Just to help cut hay into long windrows and smell it curing under a harvest moon then to bale and stack it into their barns
Just to chop and stack firewood for them and feed their horses fallen apples
Then to wake up hearing acorn woodpeckers chisel small holes in a tall dead tree to fit fresh acorns tight into the wood before winter
Just to hold my breath a little longer to hear where we quit hearing each other
Then to go back and change some things I said the way those woodpeckers would carve new smaller holes for shrunken acorns fallen away
Or to tell myself now what I need to know in short whispers here against the cold that none of us knew then on the changing wind
Divorce Rate in the Northwest
What these mountains had to give we’ve turned into crates for overseas No wonder we keep missing each other cry words words and choose dust or nails for breakfast
What these mountains had to give we’ve subdivided into wide closets and no basements The dog chained in back bites the hand while we talk of children in Pakistan
What these mountains had to give gets the streams choked up and gashing down to bedrock Where will our dreams now spawn? No return on that stock—try as we might Seagulls always find the scent
What these mountains had to give is lost somewhere under the dam That beautiful girl I once knew Celilo—angels leaping round her— no money no silver or green like hers
What these mountains had to give comes roaring back in a tsunami of splinters We run down to dissemble in sawmills fight over blood incinerating and wonder why the evening sky turns purple
For thousands of years Celilo Falls was a meeting ground on the Columbia River where people fished for salmon leaping up those cascading waters. Now it is Lake Celilo, behind the Dalles Dam.
Eugene Marckx has settled in the shadow of Mount Pilchuck, among sheep and cattle and horses and rusted cars. Second-growth cedar, hemlock, and spruce are the oldest inhabitants there, above the stones. Poems come to him to show the way back onto the path he left as a boy. He is at work on a novel about clear-cutting.