A Summer Day in Northern California, 1919

A Summer Day in Northern California, 1919


Two-year-old Virginia is missing

Her parents look throughout the tidy

Wooden house

Where yellow curtains glow

They go outside and peer

In the shady woods

Where a brook chuckles a sudden secret

And small shy forest mammals

Are gone to earth

Among the violets like watching eyes

And the bluewild brush

Smells of elephants and candour.

Mama and Papa seek amidst the shadows

Virginia’s soft fine hair of redwood

And foxes;

And then they process to the sunspread garden


And there finally they find her

Stumping amongst the scented

Cherry tomato vines:

In her left hand the salt shaker

In her right a hot bauble

Ready to be shaken on and munched.


This is how I see my mother

Underneath where people later tried

To comb her out and weave her

Into their own design:

She is a non-consulting seeker

Ready to go outside

She is an arrow born whistling

And what she knows or doesn’t know

Is barely in it. Politesse is helpful only

To keep the world from finding

That her soul

Is a wolf in celebration

A silent watcher with eyes

Owl-glaring. A clean, honed gem

Just some people can discover.

I don’t have to worry about my mother

She shakes her salt

She sits on a sun-warmed stone

She flies the route she’s finding as she flies it

She eats tomatoes

Like a noseful of lilies

Virgin as her shins of padded bone:

This baby-ancient, innocent as berries

Hanging where the light is cupped leaf-under

And shines for them alone.


Jan. ‘1o

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