Muir Woods National Monument
250 feet up
the massive crown
of one of the oldest redwoods
in the park bristles proudly
in the midday sun.
Up on the Hillside Trail
barely visible among the gangly saplings
and shrubs stands a buck, antlers agape,
by us trekking noisily along below.
The trail is so steep in spots
that one misstep and you would go
into the stream far below.
Stretching up from alongside the trail
the famous 225-foot-tall “walk-through” tree
crashed to the ground
back in December 1971,
the forest growing in filling
the shadowless space all around.
There hasn’t been a major fire here
in 200 years although
giant redwoods survive them just fine
due to their thick impenetrable bark hides,
leaving behind blackened fire caves
in their trunks as reminders
of their tenacity, resilience, and eternity.
But for me the most awesome aspect
of this ethereal experience
is simply walking along behind my wife,
following along in her precious path
mesmerized as always
by the motion of her movements moving
with perfect perfection
especially accentuated today
by the mystical majesty of these ancient woods
improved by the mere pristine presence
of the most beautiful woman ever
to grace its trails.
Busy day of San Francisco sightseeing:
riding the Muni Metro N-Train,
transferring to the F-Line Streetcar,
walking up Broadway to Columbus
and into the famous City Lights Bookstore
(I actually met Lawrence Ferlinghetti
when I was here 14 years ago,
he signed a couple of his books for me),
then across the street
to the Beat Museum (closed, damn).
Then we continued climbing the steep hills
rising like pythons up to Mason Street
to the Cable Car Museum:
amazing watching these huge
whirring spinning wheels still powering
ancient cable cars like they did 130 years ago.
Outside, one of the cable cars
becomes stuck at the corner
so we climb on, pay our $5,
sit down as it gets push-started
and we ride the fattened coils
of the giant undulating python hills
back down to the bottom
where we enjoy a lovely lunch
at the Boudin Cafe (as I waited for
my pain pills to kick in)
then took the N-Train back to Dave’s.
“I need to lie down,” she said,
her eyelids heavy as hens.
When I went in later to check on her
she was sprawled out languidly
across the bed on her tummy,
one leg bent at the knee,
one arm stretched out above her head
like she’s picking apples off a tree.
The long, strong, soft, pure landscape
of her lush body lying content
as a python sleeping in the sun,
is the most beautiful, fascinating, enticing thing
I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
I almost call him Larry
Did I tell you I met Lawrence Ferlinghetti?
No of course I didn’t tell you. Every July I’m
in San Francisco on business and
always make the pilgrimage
over to City Lights Books and this
time I see a rather oldish gent
at a desk in an office so I
stick my head in the doorway and say,
“Excuse me but are you Lawrence?”
(I almost call him Larry.)
And it is him, so he signs a couple
books for me, says to make
myself at home; I tell him I’m
reading his biography but he seems
uninterested in that, always
been a rather un-egotistical man I think.
Well anyway, it was great
meeting him, he’s over 80 you know.
Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, and the stars in the sky
“This new Inn you’re taking me to
sounds nice, at least in the guidebooks.”
“Yes, it’s right in the middle of things,
so pretty and full most of the time.
I’m sure it will be fine.”
I’m not terribly fussy about hotels and inns,
as long as you can get some sleep
it’s fine with me. She, on the other hand . . .
“Remember that one you took me to
in Belgium, outside of Brussels,
that ugly room above the bar?”
she glances over at me.
“How could I forget that one?
You wouldn’t even sit down in that room.”
“And in Amsterdam, I still think that
was a brothel, with the red light blinking
in the window.”
“Oh yeah, you didn’t sit down in that room either.”
“And in Paris, that scary place
on that dark, dingy street in the Arab section.”
“At least in that room I rubbed your feet –
remember those blisters you had
from us walking all day long –
before getting you out of there.”
“And remember in . . .”
“OK, OK, I get the picture.
But at least I quickly moved us
to a new and better place each time
as soon as I saw you were uncomfortable,
as soon as I saw you couldn’t even sit down.”
She smiles at me and takes my arm
and I realize that if need be I’d try to move
the Earth and the Moon and the stars in the sky
for this woman or die trying.
virtually lived in a car,
was happiest driving.
I don’t know how many trips
he made back and forth,
up and down
across the country,
down to Mexico,
up into New England,
over to California, Texas, Colorado.
100 mph. 110 mph.
money for gas and cigarettes,
beer and cheap wine
taking precedence over
for a few bucks,
for some colorful conversation.
driving even when exhausted.
or hungry, or lost, or lonely.
the Road was his Home.
all that primal, raw,
uncultivated energy directed
as long as it was
on the Road.
Some Enchanted Evening
What has become of me
I’m wondering, flying 38,000 feet
over the Atlantic, a couple hours out
from Boston, but closer to home
and my wife, listening to
“Some Enchanted Evening”
on my airplane headphones.
Years ago I certainly would
have chosen some wailing guitar
performances from the Rock Legends
track. But today . . . well here I am
listening to “Younger Than Springtime
Are You,” fighting back the tears,
thinking of my wife
and how young and sweet and beautiful
she still is to me
and always will be.
I’m crowding her on this airplane, she’s at the window, I’m in the middle seat, leaning into her space, trying, I suppose to get closer to her, to my beautiful wife. She takes my hand, that’s such a nice thing. I am always so happy when she takes my hand. But she’s not terribly interested in talking with me, chides me over everything I say. I’m making small talk, trying to pass the time, trying not to worry about missing our connecting flight. “There’s nothing to do about it anyway. I try not to worry about things I can’t control. Look at it as an adventure,” she chirps and squeezes my hand. And I think how our lives together have been an adventure, such an incredible adventure for me, being in her life, part of her life, still amazed that she is mine. I still can’t figure, when I think back on it, why she ever acquiesced to be mine, to spend her life with me.
“Do you remember when you first decided you wanted to spend your life with me?” I ask. She answers me right away. She always answers me right away when I ask her silly questions like this.
“Oh no, that was such a long time ago.”
“I remember when I knew I wanted you to be with me forever.”
She looks at me blankly, thinking no doubt, oh here we go again.
“I knew on our very first date, when I asked you to go steady with me. I knew it from the moment that we met that I had to make you mine.”
She smiles. She humors me with a shallow smile, trying to turn back to her magazine. She doesn’t appreciate my curiosity about the past.
But I continue. “You first told me, in a letter anyway, that you wanted to marry me when we were only seniors in high school. I wonder if that counts as a commitment. I mean, perhaps people who date seriously talk about getting married now and then, without having truly made up their minds. Sort of comes with the dating territory. Probably seems like a good thing at the time, don’t you think?”
She smiles at me again, a smile Dante could have written 100 cantos about or Shakespeare a dozen sonnets. “That was such a long time ago,” she repeats and turns back to her magazine, letting my hand go.
I survey your divine form, the landscape of you
from across the room, beginning
at your head, your hair so soft and brown,
moving to your shining silhouette,
your perfect nose and ever-sweet lips,
and chin and ears and white neck,
then continue flowing over your shoulders,
off down your arms to your delicate fingers –
typing, writing, pointing, touching me –
my fingers, my hands, and face,
my arms and chest, my head and heart.
Then I return to continue my journey
down over your chest to your luscious hips,
that sway like ships moored beneath the coming storm,
then to your thighs I know so well,
and calves and ankles ending at your pretty little feet.
Yes, the landscape of Patti enthralls me so,
I should have been a geologist or an explorer.