Dorothy Gilbert
From The Yosemite Poems

1. A List

greylighted skin of old ponderosa.

streets, roads, alleys, paths, liedownplaces,
inside the tight young
cones, inside bracts, in among
cindercity barkflakes

Day's-eye, pregnant milkweed,
asterdance, blue or dried; black oak singing
as the sun plays warm music
on its lighted leaves

Redberry bearscat, polkadot bearscat, log
orange as bearscat, long tree rotting
into groundsoil, black earth

holding the night,
breastfeeding the night,
night in the day's warm soil
feeding on rootsearch, rockbreak, bonerot,
eye and brain and fur rot,
milk of rot and root,

Night nourished and growing
beneath our feet.


2. The Forest of Hands

Hands of the black oak, playing the light.
Hands of the ponderosa, a brush for the wind's voice.
Hands of cedarfroth and alderfeather, hands
     of cones fatfingered, sugar and pitchfingered,
     thin and brittle brokenfingered;
ham-handed sugar pine cones two feet long.
Tight-fisted cones; fists full of berries; old thistle-fists;
grassy hands; hands full of seeds;

long blue lupine hands testing the air.

Under the earth
old hands in pieces, bones
     in the dark dirt.


3. Foresta Creek

The cold grasps me.
It is in me, moving

with me; we are a double creature
contending, we keep even

if I keep moving. Face down, I swim
in soft amber, over sand, mica,

greenish stones, black rocks; under boulders,
through colder shadows. Face up,

I let the current carry me under the alders' green
steps, levels, planes of light. The cold

loves my hair, eats my face, makes sharp
edges in my blood. Face down again

I fight the current, work my shoulders, win
my way to the sun.

On land I am the warm
bored victor.