Thick and green, the hills rise
on each other's shoulders.
High ridges disappear in fog
make me wish I was born of water.
At the divide, I taste the cool ocean air,
the way a deer finds a salt lick,
and roller coaster down a narrow road
that does not believe in a straight line.
crawl through barbed wire fences.
Small towns occur like a whim.
As if in a coma, they merely survive.
I tune in the only station
and listen to country western.
Static gradually drowns the singer out.
Rounding a corner, he pops to the surface
for another breath,
simply to sink back still singing.
Fir shadows lace the road.
Bracken cascades embankments.
At the next curve, a farmhouse is half finished--
boards weathered raw. Chickens roost in a gutted Chevy.
Scattered among these hills, families
rely on small private lumber mills,
the disability or unemployment check,
the killing of an out of season elk.
This poem first appeared in Caffeine Destiny and later appeared in
Deer Drink the Moon: Poems of Oregon (Ooligan Press, Portland State University).
Used here with the author's permission.