Turning the corner of the new road
where earth rose and swelled
in other shapes last time I came,
I see that someone else has recognized
the beauty of the knoll
and has the money to own it,
the will to change it,
the power to destroy.
All the bronze madrone limbs lie toppled criss-cross
as if giant vandals had shoved them over easily
and run off to more mischief.
I sit on a heap of cord wood in the short afternoon,
translucent berries shining in the Christmas sun.
Fir plumes droop and lift in the tender breezes.
Heart squeezed with memories of virgin landscape,
I remember the softness of this air from another forest
five hundred miles and fifteen years ago.
Across the clearing a handful of quail
falls against gravity
scattered like seeds upside down.
Far below a swirl of wings
circles and disappears into a dark tree,
a silver carillon against the deepening valley.
Sweet green rye sprouts all stand straight
trying to knit the moist abraded slopes
into a civilized driveway.
The mounds of years of treasured humus split and slump.
Soil too rich and gentle to resist this mildest San Lorenzo winter,
even plastic rain-wraps can’t shore up the sloughing banks.
The owners may know it is special here
but will not notice they live only in a memory.
The house will be built by eco-groovy carpenters
of new clean redwood from some other forest,
oak from far hillsides,
burl yanked from someone else’s secret place.
A poem is no substitute for a dryad.