Winding through Elk Rock Garden
We walk a slow pace. A gardener clips a few leaves
on the far side, then becomes a shadow turning compost
into warm, simmering earth, and we recall the people who lived
long ago, and gave themselves, generation after generation,
to our growing.
A small, algae-covered pond covers young newts beginning
to stir, like the small sources of our dreams.
Beside them, pale heliotropes grow, reflections of Oregon clouds.
Some nearby trees draw breath, then slowly exhale
almost imperceptible rosy blossoms.
We reach the top of a cliff where a madrone curves
toward the sun,
I stroke its pale skin, long and smooth as a lover’s body,
put my arms around it, my cheek resting against
a slow pulse of light.
High above the river-sparkle,
we hover there.
Dark red-brown bark lifts, peels away
as light moves underneath, making a shadow
from each strip. We know the madrone doesn’t mind us
looking long into its many glossy- green eyes,
unlike people who shy from gazing into each other’s souls.
Younger people have carved their initials into the skin, an all-too
expected valentine the tree accepts,
unlike us with our hasty condemnations.
Our aging knees creak and pinch as we climb back
down stone steps, reminding us that
some of these trees have already lived longer than we will,
then as we climb into our confining car, we cringe at
the noisy engine, sigh, and leave Quietude for another time.