PETER DALE SCOTT
CAPE FLATTERY, WASHINGTON
Purple aster, goldenrod
Push through the buried sands of my northern childhood
The sands of this glacial parking lot.
Across the strait, the fog is banked like snow
Against the blue sides of Vancouver Island
Not foreign to these Indians; they, unbothered
By foreigners’ arrangements, still intermarry
Trade across the water, hold potlatches.
Beyond this cape, the last island
With its uninhabited lighthouse.
The viewpoint guide lends me her binocs
To see where a single puffin dives below us
And when the gulls scatter off the tidal rocks
Points to the cedars, from behind which, in a moment,
An eagle will emerge.
Rain-heavy cobwebs hang in the Sitka spruce.
“This is the end of America,” I say,
And she, a full-blooded Makah, smiles,
“Or the beginning.”
TURN OF A CENTURY
The fragment of Schumann from the next room
almost as faint as the memory
of Frank at our old upright piano
back in the thirties. My heart
is moved, gently. I turn to you
napping beside me, in preparation
for the century’s end tonight, and say
“I used to hear my father play this
fifteen years before you were born.
It’s been a long road.”
And you say, “To the right place.”
Yes. We hold each other, in silence.
Tonight, at Mike and Charlene’s
on Grizzly Peak, we hug again on the deck
as we watch the tiny fireworks bursting
in the blurred fog over San Francisco
ten miles off. Muffled booms
as after a thunderstorm
which has stopped being scary
and arcs like the white smoky trails
of the forgotten tear gas
we once saw all around us
right here in Berkeley.
The others come outside with their elegant
half glasses of champagne. Below us somewhere
young people cheering.
For Angela and William Young
In a world where, even on calm days,
Surf breaking makes sea-cliffs shudder,
Tide-tunnels deepen in search of new stacks,
Where a mere shift in temperature
Will with the aid of water
Exfoliate even granite,
After life’s labors, you deserve this calm
Above the ocean, on this lookout point,
Ferns, asters underfoot, and the osprey’s shadow,
A place to gaze from, and to be at home
Above where crows feast on a pelican,
Cormorants scurry across the spindrift
To their perilous perches,
In any weather.
Words to Du Fu from the Oakland Airport Parking Lot
At the airport to pick up the guest speaker
words fail me. High overhead
what you heard as your gut froze
the creak of geese flying north again