Friday, 27 of March of 2015

Philip Levine – Our Valley

Miro Majorek - Pacheco Pass

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We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
David_D_Alleea silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a whiff of salt, call it our life.

Philip Levine, a Poet of Grit, Sweat & Labor, Dies at 87


Wendell Barry – Sycamore

Sycamor_Dancers

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In the place that is my own place, whose earth I am
shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing,
a great sycamore that is a wondrous healer of itself.
Fences have been tied to it, nails driven into it,

hacks and whittles cut in it, the lightning has burned it.
There is no year it has flourished in that has not harmed it.
There is a hollow in it that is its death, though its living
brims whitely at the lip of the darkness and flows outward.

Over all its scars has come the seamless white of the bark.
It bears the gnarls of its history healed over.
It has risen to a strange perfection
in the warp and bending of its long growth.

It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.
It has become the intention and radiance of its dark fate.
It is a fact, sublime, mystical and unassailable.
In all the country there is no other like it.

I recognize in it a principle, an indwelling
the same as itself, and greater, that I would be ruled by.
I see that it stands in its place, and feeds upon it,
and is fed upon, and is native, and maker.


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