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At Tower Peak

At Tower Peak

 Every tan rolling meadow will turn into housing
 Freeways are clogged all day
 Academies packed with scholars writing papers
 City people lean and dark
 This land most real 
 As its western-tending golden slopes
 And bird-entangled central valley swamps
 Sea-lion, urchin coasts
 Southerly salmon-probes 
 Into the aromatic almost-Mexican hills
 Along a range of granite peaks
 The names forgotten,
 An eastward running river that ends out in desert
 The chipping ground-squirrels in the tumbled blocks
 The gloss of glacier ghost on slab
 Where we wake refreshed from ten hours sleep
 After a long day's walking
 Packing burdens to the snow
 Wake to the same old world of no names,
 No things, new as ever, rock and water,
 Cool dawn birdcalls, high jet contrails.
 A day or two or million, breathing
 A few steps back from what goes down
 In the current realm.
 A kind of ice age, spreading, filling valleys
 Shaving soils, paving fields, you can walk in it
 Live in it, drive through it then 
 It melts away
 For whatever sprouts
 After the age of
 Frozen hearts. Flesh-carved rock
 And gusts on the summit,
 Smoke from forest fires is white,
 The haze above the distant valley like a dusk.
 It's just one world, this spine of rock and streams
 And snow, and the wash of gravels, silts
 Sands, bunchgrasses, saltbrush, bee-fields,
 Twenty million human people, downstream, here below.

Poem by Gary Snyder
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