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Donner

by Leonard M Hawkes

Something draws me here--
Surely the mountains,
The summit, the ridge;
The story too has power,
For as one who has kept
A fire in the snow,
Slept out in the dead of Winter--
Their ordeal of suffering
Speaks to my soul.

Perhaps more powerful
Is my own first memory
Of this craggy mountain place:
At twelve, the portal
Of the world beyond "the Basin":
Abandonment of juniper and sage--
Door to a world beyond irrigation
Beyond the Salt Lakes,
Where rain fell and flowed to the sea,
Where moderation favored the Earth,
New plants grew in new ways--
New ideas there as vast
As the new reality of the Sea.
Here my adolescent soul
Knew the threshold of The World.

True, more than once
I've returned to live
My life in the Basin--
To the limits of the Salt Lakes
(Yes, and recognized the value,
The safety of mountain perimeters.),
But that reminiscence of youth,
That early mountain-top-experience,
That rim of expectation,
It glimmers here yet--
For which I make what has become
This annual pilgrimage.

07/11/2008

Author's Note: Written on Donner Summit; morning, 3 July 2008.

Posted on 07/12/2008
Copyright © 2022 Leonard M Hawkes

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Jeffrey Parren on 07/12/08 at 03:50 PM

Your language is vibrant in reflection, honor, and youthful energy. Sentimental as well. Well done! ~JPP

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 07/12/08 at 07:13 PM

You always give honor to the places you visit.

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