Lake Pend Oreille Verses


Field Before Us

In the field before us

just beyond the fire

purple penstemons sway

with the wildgrass and arrowleaf balsamroot

If you walk amongst these wildflowers,

pausing to partake,

you can hear bees buzzing,

you can see the hummingbird coming in low,

you can hear the robin see the swallow

feel the shadow of the hawk

In the field before us,

the children and I find these things


The Stars


Sky blue sky

Sun goes down

Watch for the stars

But not too hard

You’ll go blind unless

you simply let them come

First one

then another,

then another

that winks and leaves,

look for another,

back to one,

look back to the blank blue

and there it is twinkling

making you a fool

Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter,

 who can tell,

the others taking their time

Then from the gloam on high

look to the fire you are making

the bread you are breaking

the children you are raising

After all is quiet again,

you sit with your love,

 smoking a cigar

you look up

and laugh

for the stars are so numerous

you cannot remember

which came which

and what came first




Standing outside the ring of light

I admire the stars

In unfamiliar latitude and longitude

I cannot find Orion

but I can see the big dipper

Connect the dot to dot geometry

a one dimensional plane

to my childish eyes

really a curved cornea

with depths insurmountable

So vast that when I return to pee later

I can just make out the milky way

a vast sheet unfurling

indiscernible to the focused eye


Berry cobbler

Berry cobbler

in a coal fired

steel dutch oven

                    thou hast made me whole


Lake Pend Oreille

O Pend Oreille!

Scraps of the Missoula floods,

glorious scraps indeed,

from the Clark Fork River to the Pend Oreille river,

the vestiges of an ancient ice stampede,

a jokulthlaup hemmed in by the mountains ranges

of the Cabinet, Selkirk and the Ceour D’Alene, running to the Bitterroot valley

O Pend Oreille,

you have no bottom, I tell the children as they wade.

The Kalispel astride monstrous prehistoric sturgeon

that the Navy boys from WWII scared off

From Buttonhook Bay looking north

towards the back of the Idaho batholith

A channel through which the floods

carried rich silt clear to the Willamette Valley

where my family settled and I was born

The lake deep blue dark

surrounded by stands of ponderosa pine, spruce, fir,

growth tangle at the lake's edge of creambrush ironwood,

black hawthorn and Saskatoon berries,

pink wild prickly rose

Along ancient deer trails,

the ghost highways of the Kalispel,

we stroll with the children

down to the water’s edge,

the quartzite carbonite

mountainous formations rising up before us

unmarked but by scar of flood and scab of landslide

we have never seen