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September 2017, vol 13 no 3

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Bill Gottlieb

Crossing the Celestial Line

Spring Equinox, and I’m walking up a fire trail on private land, logged land, where a father and his sons battled the Valley Fire, stopped the flames from devouring the village where I live, the village like an oasis amidst the blasted, stunned hills, the stumps and mud, the piles of logs at an upstart mill where the spa used to be, the brave frames of a few new houses among the many leveled, lives inside scattered like flakes of ash.

From here I can see across Big Canyon to the slopes of the state forest – its hapless horror, like thousands of stakes through acres of hearts. Cold rain starts, a spring tonic for my blanched sight. The oaks haven’t budded yet – I’m at 3,000 feet – and masses of mistletoe smooch the sky, parasitically happy.

Truth be told, I’m rather happy, too – striding in the quiet, dots of wet decorating my chest, huffing like a wolf in a fairytale, nimbostratus like a gam of gray whales migrating to the little lagoons of my eyes.

As I pause by the peak of Seigler Mountain – a rambling mishmash of boulders, regnant grandfathers declaring their worn stories for the birds – a pair of generous ravens appear, coast out of sight between the boughs, call to each other across shade and dusk, dark icons of fidelity and death. The sun sets in about an hour, having perfectly shared its portion of light. Time to descend to the harmless stations of home.

petals on our potted pear tree . . .
hands raised
no answers


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