on the Northern brow of Oregon
those pioneer names
The Columbia, the Willamette
still pulse out to sea
The sun is but a moment older
eyes closed only slightly more
to all the rags and rages
of the dangling stairstep days.

Stay, Astoria, huddle further
into your top-hat ordered amphitheatre
at the sea –
it has dealt more swiftly
with your proud, strutting ships
They are lodged, sodden litter,
felled like trees
beaten to an essential stream.

Astoria, John Jacob,
the dimmed expectant eyes
of your wind-battered buildings rise
over the green of scattered pines
Over the toppling widows’ walks,
with their spikes
Over the hammering at your basements
Over and out to the sea.

Astoria, old lady, once beloved and wet-eyed
slowly wrinkling
into the pillow of the hills.

Jan. ’69