Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fall Rain
after Kenneth Rexroth (but in Oregon)

by Vincent Noto

A good rain knows its season.
                        —Tu Fu

At the trailhead the rain slows
And droplets float a little
On the wind.  They fall among
Evergreen and deciduous
Trees with leaves of asparagus
Green, gold, yellow, red.
Further up the trail a mist
Gathers along the treetops.
Now and then rain starts up again
Or great wet drops plummet.  We
Raise our hoods and continue,
Upward.  Soon peering down on
The ravine, we survey the tops
Of pines—winding Eagle Creek
Peeking out between timbers
plastered in emerald moss
And lacy lichen.
Through the mist across the gulch
We make out geological
Striations cut in verdant
Cliffs and hillsides plush—once
Banks with bathtub rings of dark
Horizontal grooves or caves.
In places, deciduous trees,
In lemon yellow attire,
Grow up together with pine
Or fir intertwining like our
Hands as we trod on along the
Muddied path to the falls.  That night
In a less-than Spartan hotel
Room, I read, in translation, Tu
Fu’s poems while Melissa slept.
The next day we drove toward the base
Of cloaked Mount Hood, along Cold
Spring Creek.  The mountain hid, as
In the old Zen proverb. It’s a
Monday and here we hike alone
On a less-traveled path .  A
Switchback finally veers from
The highway and we scuttle
Along a creek-side trail crossing
At a well-built log bridge.  The
Air is crisp with cold.  A pika
Spies us, then darts for rocky shadows.
Only a sprinkle of rain now
And again but mist hovers just
Above us and the creek. We
Reach a little patch of green mossy
Stones and miniature trees like
A Japanese garden and I
Stop to photograph a toadstool.
Then the path leads upward steeply
And we find ourselves in boulders
At the base of a craggy cliff.
We’ve climbed high to turn
like a season, to gaze—
Together—back along the
Path we’ve taken.   No longer
In mist and cold but brilliantly
Above illuminated evergreens
Against a burgeoning sky
Of acetylene blue.

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