Wild Rockies Field Institute

Notes from the Field


sleep under lone gray cottonwood
on sandy stream banks, seek shade in shadows
below branches, gnarled bark, wind beaten trunks
still and aged, deciduous skeletons of winter’s chill
snow and freeze fading, now
blooming buds red and yellow, prospects of leaves, teasing summer
attract insects, bring birds—sapsucker, flicker, titmouse, wren
advertise birth, become food, arrive home, at this shelter
if only for a night, these old traditions survive

here Anasazi hunted deer, rabbits
in wind blown footsteps of ancient ones, together
drink water from sandstone seeps in cool hidden alcoves
discover owl’s nest and last years oak leaves blanket the ground
solitary raven gargles overhead breaking empty cloudless blue silence
from sandstone dome across bone dry washes, dark wing beats
mark time high above faded red desert floor
pink Navajo sandstone, an amphitheater carved by millennia
flowing with July’s sporadic flash flood thunderstorm contributions
a sanctuary of rock wraps its arms around human form
beyond significance mind’s gate now open to wonder

these places we call alcoves, sometimes form caves, later arches
now museums of iron red pictographs
portraits of native animal family members
past to present—antelope, deer, rabbit, dog
eight thousand year old stories, like plains people’s winter counts
like old debris in river flood plains
like burnt out supernovas once dotting constellations
entertainment for the old ones to share good stories
maybe fables, didactics or children’s tales
hollow rock becomes seed granaries for the Fremont
becomes places with names
places for Clovis hunters to carve tools
places for swallow and swift to fly
places for big horn sheep’s reprieve from fiery rays
of midday summer heat and sun
places for thoughts to settle like dust
and cool and collect in the echoing
laughter of deep canyon meditation

moon waxing half full
a purple light at dusk drapes
sheer vertical relief, canyon walls
redrock walls, these places called
Horseshoe canyon, Head Spur, Larry, Happy
and Blue John Canyon
give identity, like the gift of name at birth
give membership, security, protection
the sand from these walls is imbibed in water
it blows in beards and collects in cracks
horizontal crevasses of sun beaten dry weathered skin
through space through time
relationship to self, to soft rock walls
surrounds body defines mind
is becoming, changing, silent in movement
across dry creek beds, across topographical lines
the crossing of coyote tracks, a flock of Pinyon Jays
suddenly calling and crying together
reminding fellow residents
of high plateau lands
we are home

                                                            C . Wolf Drimal
                                                            April 2006
                                                            Horseshoe Canyon to Happy Canyon
                                                            Colorado Plateau

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Tongass Dragons

soft lines of Sitka spruce
hemlock and alder, smooth
like brush strokes of a master
through mist
these islands born blanketed
by blue tones of sky of ocean 
subtly rise
rolling like ancient gentle dragons
dawning the universe
with earth and home
for blue heron
             to roost
for bear’s fishing hole
and eagle’s perch

silted aquamarine hues
Stikine River influenced
provides a dragon’s back
with much more
contrast of color, yet
even the old ones know
 not to speak of myth
beyond the scope of family

a thousand dragons belong, here
revealed visible by an archipelago
with a single star
the only placer left to pan
            after dusk
setting now
in a world beyond
bidding the cry of raven
and song of thrush
cordial night, lucid dream
            and prayers
to cloud, fog, creek
            and sun
who know no other than
            kind stewardship

myriad creatures sounding
movement of tides, splashing
rockweed, crab, periwinkle and mussel
loon feathers, wing beats
salmon in stride, emerging fins
            orca pods, gliding
the wake of a timeless passage
quietly carried
across this blue kingdom

                                                                     C. Wolf Drimal
                                                                     July 16 2006
                                                                     Wrangell Island, Southeast Alaska

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