A High Desert Memory
written for my father,
who finally closed his land-survey business
at the age of 85.
GIVE ME THIS LAND
You don't really know the land until you have walked -
out, out from a spot known and perhaps so secure
that the shimmer of the horizon is bounded more
by memory than hope that history will renew.
You may work the land and feel a bond with stony sand
that may poorly yield up a life of scraggly youth
and early withered face that cracks when it smiles.
The land may even work you - but do not know it.
Yet, I would not trade this barren land for heaven.
While others disdain a three hundred mile stretch
of solitude and fear of empty tank or sudden flat,
I drift with the every changing colored stones of peace.
Give me the range of stars that blind the chilling night.
Find me the rusted pan or weathered child's shoe,
or fine chiseled point or broken iron plow,
beaten by humble hand in the V & T forge.
Show me a thousand buds drawn from new spring rain.
Surround me with hand hewn posts and old bob'd wire
that protect a sweat water well 'neath winter cress,
that mix with tiny elderberry safe beyond the fire.
Miners walked this land before and suffering 'fornia bound.
Others will come and see my footprints here in moonlight
and wonder at the measured stride of destiny,
that gathers this simple land unto my very soul.