after days of rain we need to leave
the house is all spelling and online
math lessons wwhaat’s fo-or diiinnner
and the constant repertoire of piano
that sometimes accompanies the theatre
of my nightly dreams
midmorning cease, the grey sky ascended
distant, moving east. we take an apple
boots and a notebook each
into the woods behind, knowing
post-rain Fall is written for the senses
the burnt patch from early Summer
starting to sprout barely, mostly blackened
inside acres of yellow; the knee high kind of grass, sharp
through clothes, the scrappy kind that looks beautiful
for about ten weeks a year
the burnt earth exposes rocks and its soilless quality
this is manzanita land, oaks and the determined pines
with creamy nuts if we do the work
the house that burnt, it’s garage levelled, a drill press;
will it work again? a garden gnome stares from inside
temporary fencing (not at us) lifeguarding the covered
no trades have touched this place yet
the house next door burnt two years ago
and rebuilt from its event of kids and cigarettes
my kids always find the best sticks and compete
bulrushes in the awakening dry creek
are about to burst, like those they found last week
explosive, unstoppable, these aren’t quite ready
my middle boy shows us all pushing with a thumb
two ravens in a flurry from the greater pines
and a great brown owl with it’s bulk body
is all wingspan and pointy eared out of a flattened face
we chase them for an hour following the bird terror
around the valley, a hunt for a glimpse
of the great night creature, who lands and disappears
into pines or oak, found again by the two crafty ravens
who we thank for exposing the rare evening bird
a deep closing bluish-grey approaches
faster than my estimate to make it home on little legs
I sit reading Snyder
on a cedar log skateboard
there’s a wattle tree
next to the river
I stand and go to it
to touch it’s yellow existence
and while i’m still stunned by it
being here in california
a man walking his dog asks
about the log skateboard
and I ask him about the wattle
he’s a landscaper
and doesn’t know the wattle’s name here
but knows there are very few
I tell him aboriginal tribes
favour the timber
for making boomerangs
and he asks again
about the cedar log
I made into a skateboard.
Walk your Skateboard!
Walk your board across the bridge!
I stop. Swap my ten month old daughter to my right arm
and kick the board to my other hand, call out
to my three sons on bikes to stop.
The uniform keeps walking but is looking back
knows I’m going to ask.
Sure. Umm bikes too?
No, bikes are fine.
Right, so, why must I
walk my skateboard
across this bridge?
Yes, I’m sure it is.
Why, is it policy to walk my skateboard
across this bridge.
I stare at him.
Then check that my three boys haven’t already
crossed the bridge to explore the trails on the other side.
I look back at him, swap my daughter to the other arm
and lean the skateboard against myself.
He drops his head, steps a little closer to reduce any scene.
The glass panels
get broken by skateboards.
Right, thanks. I guess
the skaters who are
ollieing yeah? The type
without a baby in their arms?
I turn and walk my board and daughter
across the bridge.
We enjoy the ducks below
with their butts
in the air.
after putting the bins out
on the road
I take my daughter in my arms
and walk the trails behind our place
and she says Oooh
as our eyes track a large dragonfly
around the oak
high over our heads
a woman walks by
and I must admit
she looks like one
who’d put her head down
don’t make eye contact
with anyone out here on the trails
but a bloke with a baby
in his arms
and the baby saying Oooh
at the birds
I’ve moved to northern California for a year or so. It’s been
a big move but my family and I love it. I’ll try to post some poems
and photos a bit more frequently but there’s just too much to do here!
Hope you’re very well, wherever you may be.