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Paths RoundingTimberline, Mt. Hood, Last Week of Summer All-mantling, the grit— scoured and beaten and rinsed by glacier sap, ranging over scrubbed slope sides batting off the sun, the previous million snows, the engraving summer rains, clean rock to eat— not like dust, not like zest shaved and bowled on a table to taste, but an ascendant snack of rock essence, its core of dryness crisp-cased, a spark on the teeth. Shock of stone-flash, an ember to float on meltwater's first 59 T W O : T R A I L S gradual toe descending through its old evaporated channel, stone-bundled bed flowering with asters, half-pint yarrow, buckwheat, that only yesterday yesterday's rationed thaw-water flowed through and evanesced from later in the dark when the summit's snowpack shivered, stiffened, tightened its spring. A high place with a crunch, arching underfoot, hollowing the lungs. Bell music of pumice as a foot scuffs the trail. ("A rock talks to a rock," the preacher woman sings.) A rock rings, not ash but orchestra. 60 Paths Rounding Timberline, Mt. Hood We've left heron-blue whitebark pine trunks long dead but reaching, dwarf lupines, very approachable trees. We've left smooth purple cones in clusters often, thick as valley grapes outweighing the cruciform vine. Purpler than the grit. Sound of afly. Small moth on the flowers. Slightly larger orange peel butterfly. Click rhythm of grasshopper. Spider silks blowing from stunted spruce. Ground-sprawled fir, a starry starry mountain hemlock. And exactly as we cross a tiny runoff 61 T W O : T R A I L S stream bed— 2:40 p.m.— first waters of the flow meet us and cross the path. This first water is slow. Almost gelatinous. —So tense. For later torrent amasses and sings clearly. We anoint porcelain alpine foreheads with an ashy drop. The trickle takes a good fifteen minutes to wet its path across our path. It turns some rocks gingery, some smoke-damaged green. It picks up seeds and floats them. They twirl around. How almost like a moon jelly on a beach 62 Paths Rounding Timberline, Mt. Hood the water quivering there in timberline sand, the advance toe of the stream being born. Sip that water in a one-ounce cup. Shouldn't. But. Clear, sweet, the first drinker says. And look where it will go, to the bigger stream, splashes firing up like sparks out of a log, slapping boulders while two young women of the range's first people nap in the canyon, on a blanket, in a deep silver coulee through under-andesite and ashfall tuff. For this short time, the old snow's young again. 63 Later we clean pitch off our palms with the ash grit. An insect sings, long trill, somewhere inside an aster cluster. 64 T W O : T R A I L S ...


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MARC Record
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