Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Her Shoes are not so Different From Mine
Across the chaparral
toward the mountain I can picture
a young girl’s
bouncing pig tails
a skip from the covered wagon.
She brushes against white sage,
turns to the pungent perfume
that dances in the air unseen
then turns again to the mountain’s
molted color of many browns,
with yucca spikes
staking towards heaven.
A candle, she thinks into the bright day
then catches her long stocking,
now dirt stained with new holes,
old with tatters
already darned by her own hand,
where at her ankle the sharp tongue
of a prickly bush caught her leg
like the porcupines from home.
In the night,
wrapped in her grandmother's quilt,
rain had tapped the creosote bush and turned
the air into a strange and wondrous perfume
that woke her and took her
to breathe, deep and perfect breaths
into the soft black night.
In the morning she tossed her head
at the chill and emerged with a change.
She had fallen in love
with the smell of this land
and a sky that is larger,
more open than she has ever seen,
where no trees tread on the magic glimpse
of the horizon and the sun traces its path
from one side of the earth to the other
without biding time in twilight’s hilly sky.
I am a California native too,
a child of this earth full of acorns,
a sweet and keen land
that still lives in spite of asphalt
and the rise of steel.
So I can feel that little girl
I never knew
but imagined in her long skirt,
and her shoes are not so different from mine.