after the lady Skagit
Sunlight floods half the road on which I travel;
a shadow cast by the guardrail obscures my lane—
the westbound side, which rushes past bitterbrush,
bluebunch wheat grass, ponderosa, and sandstone.
This Methow thirst can consume entire rivers.
The pass is open temptingly early this spring,
and everyone is surprised—especially the birds.
Clusters of dawdling bushtits tipple snowmelt
staggering aslant the early morning asphalt
and barely move in time to avoid being crushed,
leaping up in panicked and drunken sprays.
To avoid them, I cross into the oncoming lane.
Yours is a fertile, emerald, and succulent vale.
From Newhalem on down, your course is loosed
from reservoirs, turbines, granite, and canyon,
broad waters easing their alluvial way westward.
There are only two seasons throughout your glens:
quiet winter, and a prolonged amalgam of greens—
in the lower reaches, even the white season is fleet.
Your valley thrives because its watershed runs deep.
Elk knot themselves in both sown and fallow fields.
Mares prepare to foal. Eagles nest, and herons dance.
Mossed and lichened branches arch over the roadway.
Brilliant and verdured raiment graces your curves.
This westward road lures me, but I dare not go too far.
As I ponder the way your banks swell and heave, I think:
I shall not force my dark lane through your greenness—
shall not slake my fire.
Come, when you wish to burn.