From the bubble that is Berkeley, unbursting
with high brows. I can imagine a softball game
between subjective idealists versus dialectical materialists.
The polysyllabics, small shops from yesteryear,
university of diverse hills, homeless tents contained
in People’s Park soon to be razed for dorms. Ghost
of Mario Savio, burnt draft cards. Deer
reminding us whose woods these are.
Off to Brentwood, space redefined,
near Livermore, near Antioch,
exurbia near nothing,
sprawl of paved vineyards, patches of farmland
awaiting their fate. Homes behind gates,
safe yet some sinking in the clay of it
as if reclaimed by the elements.
Too far from Sacramento, tough drive to the bay
but there is Bart in its far reach.
Eugene in its splendor, awash in yellow
with ash and dogwood, sorrel and maple,
raspberry to rust, orange between,
clinging or falling, a blizzard of lizard leaves
droplets of dew or misty air stitching each
leaf in its funereal curling. Hamamelis,
elderberry and umbelliferyl bush. Is it
raining or is it not? Umbrellas are a signifier
of Californians. Natives wish it away.
Portland, destination of those in flight,
city of bridges, of two rivers rushing.
Hippies, to boomers to home-owners association,
tear-downs and preservation, urbane and foresters,
Portland of bikes and microbrews
atoning for its history, its shame. Portland,
still whitest of all cities. Only Portland
can be better than Portland.
For micro-moments I can see with Peggy’s eyes:
blue scrub jay darts across golden birch unleaving.
Tears of grief and joy, mingled beads on each fallen leaf.
Who offers the menu with tattooed arms, is noted,
who pushes the wheelchair and waits.
All our kin with wide embrace, love
in the salmon, the cereal and the shrimp,
the pasta, hummus and enchiladas.
Bountiful, the autumnal razzle-dazzle,
the silence of sheets in strange beds.
This trip we didn’t quite, this love letter.