Friday, May 6, 1988

Journal entry, Forestville fossils

Now that I've begun editing my student homes for the final book, only now am I beginning to feel the urge to write. It's been a long slow drought. Teaching takes away from my writing energy, like any other job.

In Berkeley we diligently conserve water, but here, on the river, we take it out and put it back in again. Even during drought, you can't ask the river to conserve water.

The orchards here are so impoverished and sterile, not the variety of plant life we come to expect from nature. Even in the creek, there's little to look for.

Was this a shallow inland sea that stretched to the Farallones? Why are there no clams here? When the embankment on River Road, they tumbled from their beds to the road cut like an Indian midden.

Beneath the fossil beds, it's hollowed out. I crawled inside and under 10,000 years' worth of history. It made me realize that every place we walk has an equal pedigree of age. 

The clams gave us something to anchor our own limited perceptions of time upon.
I find tooted clams—what species? And an olivine snail shell, 10,000 years old, clearly recognizable with today's species.

Did the farmer who first cleared and plowed these fields ever wonder about the clamshells planted here?

Susie the cat has plans for that bluejay. I can tell by her silence.

The next time I want to walk along the beach, I can do it right here in the orchard. shells and all.

I think of my grandmother daily, the pain eases somewhat. Still in dreams, she claims it's all been a mistake. She's not dead. What am I supposed to do with that?
Hunce Voelcker, just back from India, says Link, his old lover, long since dead, also visits him regularly, claiming it's a mistake, and leads him into trouble.

Hunce says Shasta, Benares, and the Brooklyn Bridge are his three favorite holy places on earth.

I contemplate mailing Huncie the last of my Brooklyn Bridge stamps on Hart Crane's birthday. I will be sad to miss the party, perhaps by then, we will be in Peru.

There's so much turning and turmoil in my soul. The air is filled with anticipation, something is about to happen. But what?

Susie attains the posture of the stoic, the bluejay continues to call  aii, aii, aii.
Blue and salmon clouds huddle, quail in the undergrowth, bedding down for the night.

Twice now I've sat up in the middle of the night, still sound asleep, and I talk to a presence who is dwelling in John's back house where we sleep. I don't know who it is. My grannie?

The first night, I said, I love you. The second night I said, I am profoundly unhappy, and though I don't have any intention of committing suicide, I'm beginning to understand what drives people to it.

The sound of my own voice woke me enough to remember what I said in the morning. It left me spooked. This time John never heard me. Perhaps it's the beginning of healing, perhaps now, it will lift somewhat. Or I've gone and disturbed some other ghosts.

The clouds grow more dramatic with each minute. I can't get any elevation from the top of the orchard to see the sunset on the horizon. So cold for May, my fur coat is like a bear hide.

The blue spears of wheat I gather from the sewer barrow, taste like any other unknown grass seed. Sour, milky, and mildly sweet. 

We are all fossils, uncovering fossils. And more fossils.

added 9/2016



Beneath the grass
of this meadow's thousand deaths,
lies an ancient shore waiting 10,000 years
for the returning tide.
The alluvial tide of clay and iron,
wild riot of rye on the new leach fields,
budding poppies and lupine
beneath, thunder clouds at sunset,
the chirrup of flickers and jays
and early crickets—all off tempo.
Early May snowstorms.



The leach field,
a barrow for sewage,
grows wild riots of rye
and poppies beneath
thunder clouds at sunset
in early May.
The scissoring bluejays
patrol the air with diligence
and energy.