On the lower gold region—
roads blasted in the solid rock
moving forward like some lost machine
every mindless morning, and scarring anew
each day. Who needs the water
in order to effect the mine
and the comfort of proclaiming it occurs
with god or for god—he never lets you forget
the romance of the thing comes from other
orderly sources, and in this knowing cannot
of course be flawed. Skipping the “I”
and praising the outer, always measuring
the height of the stream—the weight
it might uncover, pushed onward
and out and into one’s lap, one’s hand,
one’s houses—if one were to live
on those uncertain banks, worrying
the hundred-year flood, seeking out
most “romantic” vantages, thinking that eyes—
one is allowed to retreat but must also acknowledge
the pleasure of just-once fully being.
The extreme roughness of walking on the narrowness
of the road in the silence of the place
In the off color quality of the light: I hold it, I imagine it, it builds
itself up and tears back down, as we are with and near it, the tally.
The unfortunate leak of the engine, the wail, the train, overlapping.
In the secrets of the wood and the one-time beauty of such places, in
the calm without what is within: another siren, one more calling through
the depths: at any moment the report of rotten wood breaking, these trees.
But Carlo is a dog
There is false modesty and false recognition: after all
Carlo is a dog (and rightly so was made to sleep outside and disinvited
to dinner), though a good one: “Carlo’s nose was
to be depended upon,” “Carlo and I discovered,” and
“I succeeded, with Carlo’s help.”
Before Carlo is lost from the story,
which revolves around really conveying
that great beauty and joy can be found in the wilderness (1) and, (2) the plight of
—necessity of feeding, moving, generally, caring for and keeping from bears—
sheep, essentially why anyone was even invited
on this journey: no point in being a naturalist alone.
No money in it, at least to start. Though, gold? It’s unclear
which, at that time, caused more destruction
to the landscape. Probably river-mining/panning
is okay, but one might be better off corralling
in the rotten wood and keeping an eye on the sheep, penny-wise.
One wonders, quiet enough
other enough, too
quiet. Too much scent
and the flowers are swollen.
Too many bees. And held
here by squirrel, by rustling deep
underbrush, by low and other
voices in the hills. Gauging
not the sound at times
but the absence
of sound. Knowing, maybe
the afternoon one has
is enough, must be enough
is necessary to understand
as enough. And otherwise
other. Otherwise that shadow.
In wondering the little book
and the larger book, the little
shadow and the denser shadow.
That looking out from
the hooded/shaded area into sun
one’s eyes adjust ultimately, differently
one’s eyes are always looking.
The smallish leaf lands
upon one’s chest
with such force.
Which is comfort and discomfort, a breeze
that’s filled with footsteps.
All these disparate senses
may align. Or otherwise, catching
the tiny red spiders as they float
from the trees, counting
the masses of ants in the leaves—
they go somewhere, at least, they never
speak, or if so quietly, understanding
the impact one may have on others, the forest.
Crossing the valley by a grassy trail¹
Been told of it, from this some distance.
The road wends among rocks and ends in a locked gate—all owned, windows
shut—and the hissing of water too.
As it wanders, it sways through and can’t be kept out.
Trodden and tumbling and left there and made of sack.
The remnants of one evening, many evenings, spilling through the canyons
¹ Adopt the vernacular. Praise when passing through. What is left barely—bravely—suffers. Only by chance can one know a bygone event gone awry by studying broken floorboards, dusty sills—whereby touching them, even—and imagining a gentle casting of stones, by/with the water in the creek.
Genevieve Kaplan is the author of settings for these scenes (Convulsive Editions, 2013), a chapbook of continual erasures, and In the ice house (Red Hen, 2011), winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s poetry publication prize. Her poems and essays have recently appeared in Fact-Simile, Post45 Contemporaries, and Zyzzyva. She lives in southern California where she edits the Toad Press International chapbook series, publishing contemporary translations of poetry and prose.