2 Poems  

By Don Thompson  


Among the lost artifacts, lost or stolen, 
include one substantial mortar 
worn as smooth as river rock 
in much less time 
by rough little hands pounding acorns. 
Squash-yellow stone, it was heavier 
than some of the stubby women 
who must have left it behind every spring 
when they trekked to the hills 
and found it when they came back down 
to winter camp‚ unmolested 
for a thousand years. 

Someone plowing not far from here 
turned it up two generations ago, 
and you could always find it 
near the leaning pine 
under the overgrown shrubbery, 
ignored until I wrestled it out 
last summer and put it on display. 
Mistake.  Now it's gone, 
snatched by an activist 
with ten percent indigenous blood, 
hauled off by a drunk in a pick-up 
to grace his back porch, 
or by the thatch-headed brothers next door, 
just because.  Who knows? 

But that primal kitchen utensil 
is out there somewhere, 
not really lost and nobody's property, 
still occupying its allotted space and time 
with millenniums to go before it finally cracks, 
crumbling into gravel and then sand‚ 
long after we've all gone 
where those transient acorn eaters went. 


Homecoming Out in the hills east of town, a wind no one remembers has come home tonight to find nothing changed. One generation of grass is like another, and if the stones have lost anything, it's imperceptible. This wind has run errands for all sorts of weather, shuffled the paperwork of autumn, and spun out of control with the profligate dust. It has suffered humid fevers and lived to choke on sand; it has learned to flay clouds. All of this in my lifetime while I've been blown from joy to grief and back, from paycheck to paycheck, knowing some of the ills grass is heir to, as well as its green pleasures, and the slow osmosis of love. Tonight I lie here and listen to the wind howl its name, insisting that I admire its raw nerve, its wanderlust. But I'm too tired and need a dark, deeper place to go. I sink my fingers into sleep like roots, and I hold on.

Don Thompson teaches at a prison and is an adjunct at a community college. He lives in the San Joaquin Valley on a cotton farm with his wife. He took a hiatus from publishing but continued to write and is beginning to submit again. He has a chapbook coming soon from March Street Press: Been There, Done That. He's also appeared in several regional anthologies including California Heartland (Capra '78) and Highway 99 (Heyday '99).

September 26, 2002
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