Oregon grape, what makes you so sour today—or every day, for that matter? Your blue berries,ripe to bursting, look delicious but they’re not.Some native peoples would not eat them altogether.Others, only intermixed with sweeter berriesfrom other plants—huckleberries, for example.Are you jealous of your upland cousin,thriving in subalpine meadows,you stuck down here in the woods?Listen: your little leaves in bending ladders,dark green and shining like the holly,lift me into holiday spirits. I’m serious.With you it is Christmas in the gloom.If you could just be happy about it,I might forgive you for your flavor. —Ross Lake National Recreation Area
The laurel sweeps its lower limbsall the way down the rockand into the creek that wasn’t theretill last week’s rainstorm.If leaves could speak—and they do, in their everlasting fragrance—they would welcome the sound of watertraveling over sandstone.The leaves would say,We missed you—for almost a year,you were gone. Please stay this time.And the water would say, Maybe. See ya.
That’s what the sign sayson the storefront in Bullhead Cityalong the steaming Colorado.Which would you want first?Either way, you’ll be tastingsplit ends in your refried beans.But think about the time saved,about all the things we mightcombine: Gas & Perm,Laundromat & Five-Stud Poker(Hold ’em & Fold ’em),Freshman Comp & Foot Massage.Efficiency. Eclecticism.These are signs of democracy,the little engines that make usmix our metaphors, Free Wi-FiWhile U Wait in the green room,the jury box, the wedding chapel.
When I wake in the night and thinkof what I might have said in class that day,I wonder why my life consistsof inarticulate occasions.No timely word, only belated ones.Every hour a first draft, and then another.It makes me want to announce, “Listen!Listen to what I do not say. Listento what it is you cannot say yourselves.”There are sighs and groans, just sighs and groans.Interpret them, dear ones, as you may.
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