(John Muir said it–start with anything and you will find it attached to everything else in the universe. This poem is an attempt to find that connection through some of the many varied events I’ve experienced on Mount Hamilton over the years.)
I traced the falcon’s flight above
sere grasses flayed by summer’s heat.
Binoculars confirmed a Falco mexicanus
as I thought–and falcon, not the tercetlet.
So I did not see the feral swine
until their grunts betrayed their fear
as off they raced, midway between
the city and Lick’s most scientific mausoleum.
I paused beneath an ancient oak–
safe beneath the mistletoe–to watch
them run while death swooped down
and talons wrenched the squirrel’s last
scream–then up the falcon bore its prey
toward the hungry hatchlings she must feed.
Yet once, two decades gone, I stood
this very spot and buckled to my knees,
regained my feet, and buckled yet again,
then lost my sight. “Sir,” I cried, “I’ve lost
my sight.” He did not comprehend.
“Sit down beneath that oak,” he said.
“I cannot see it, sir. I’ve lost my sight.”
Confused, he lead me to the oak, and there
I sat alone (the other scouts returned to camp
while he stood off yet gave me watch)
for twenty minutes til my sight–at first
dim blots of shifting light, then blurred,
uncertain hues–at last returned.
And once I used those very eyes to peer
through Lick’s refracting lens at things
beyond, and saw a dying star,
its cast off shell a ghostly halo
in the depths of lifeless space.
My memory contains these images
and mind must make some meaning,
attaching strings to all the universe
through swine, nebulas, squirrels,
prairie falcons, and eyes too blind
to see the things that I have known.