From our hill, looking west, a gold valley gathers an estuary;
wetland fingers reflecting sky, winding the dense reed labrynth
down to a bay. No bridge in sight—only sentinel redwoods on
hillside groves, to guard and fill all shadows between.
You study a map, fingers tracing train routes north,
northeast; the waterfall, Sutter’s Fort, John Muir’s house, El Capitan.
From the parlor, comes a murmur; her soft voice, travels up the stairwell,
with cigarette smoke, laughter, rose milk perfumes.
You look down to see her smile, contagious, giddy. Her porcelain neck,
black curls, hint of cleavage… entranced, you watch rouged lips move,
her hands pulling the mink pelt closer—your gift
from Manhattan Island—to match her new felt hat.
A spade hits cement outside, brings you to your senses.
Since Father’s reluctant permissions, the 1910 survey begins.
And so a man, cumbersome pack of rods, sexton, and tripod—triangulates a new claim, divides the Peralta, stakes boundaries for another mill.
Hope and woods, the answer, since stray tremors have stilled
and smoke of quakes and fires are long quelled
and a City begins to rebuild.
I’m traveling in Colorado now and so missed the quake in the Eastbay today. Ironic timing, as I was finishing this poem inspired by Oakland & SF history, circa early 1900’s, and a series of poems about our 1902 house “If this house would speak.” And the Wordle 45. 😉