Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Stream and mountains in Kings Canyon National Park, CA (Stream and Mountains. Kings Canyon National Park, California; photo by Q.T Luong)


In the mountains for a first summer weekend
I can calibrate
the flex of the day:
writing letters outside till 9 p.m.,
enough light--
up at 5 a.m. to fish,
enough light.
No uninvited nights to be endured.
Dark is sleep,
a simple equation,
And the instant morning peels away
my dreams,
leaves me tired
but unhaunted.

Mama died a month ago.

My companion is silent,
like the wilderness:
She only makes sound
to do something.
I am ravenous for time to think.
Out here, it is safe to think,
think of anything.
No grief can seduce me
from wanting to go on
out here.
I dwell, I suffer,
I close in on myself
and rage.
There will be no new memories added.
I am scared what I have will not
stay clear,
will not sustain me
for my decades alone.
I refuse to let go
of Mama’s love
while I let go of her.

My companion is a namer:
I point,
she introduces.
Dogwood blossom,
corn lily,
snow plant.
Carpenter ant,
fiddlehead fern,
With her cowboy boots
she teaches me valleys:
Round like the heel,
gouged by glacier;
Pointed like the toe,
cut by river.
She lets me cry, does not
try to comfort.
She knows
here where life, even named, cannot be counted,
living is my only comfort
against death.

© Maggie Jochild, written 27 May 1984, 3:30 p.m., in King's Canyon National Park, sitting by a stream very much like the one in the above photo; companion was Gail Feldman

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