Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Counting Burros

by Richard Hartwell       

I count the burros every day,
each time I travel Reche Canyon:
a cutoff, one freeway to another,
a road increasingly more traveled by,
retaining still a placid, natural state,

Conducting census of wild burros
early mornings and late afternoons;
twenty-eight, a magical number,
varying day to day to failing eyes,
camouflaging grasses, trees, scrub.

Burros float in spring on an undulated
tide-pool, wild mustard, breeze stirred,
bordered by golden poppies, boulders,
yucca surfacing with floral ebb and
flow as burros graze shore to shore.

                        *  *  *

Spring births increase daily tally, then
seasons change; sere of summer into
fall, yucca flowers drop, grasses turn tan,
boulders immobile, as the count fails, the
drove melts to russet, brown, and coffee.

At times the group splits in two, I cast
eyes both sides of the road in chorus,
gaining twenty-eight, plus or minus;
but now and then totaling is interrupted;
encountering a body civilization-struck.

Shrink of count is not so much of
herd as of head, heart, soul, idyllic
scenes: meadows waving, wild,
without commuter-driven death:
contractions of herd and dreams.

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