Three Incidents on I-84
One moment she passes me in her white Honda Accord, 17ish, blonde,
singing Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion.
At Bridal Veil, she is dead. I drive on, thinking
“This is what life is, and what the red brick schoolhouse somehow left out.”
In this rare space of clarity, I reflect on my childhood dream, a tie-dyed pigeon
happy to be freely apart from the conformist crowd.
Farther up the road, I think of raging waters 800 feet high
destroying all human settlements the Ice Age day the Ice Dam Broke.
I imagine a party of seven deer hunters at the edges of a meadow
when they hear the rumbling, and rush back to find no people, no longhouses,
no signs they ever existed. All that remains are mud, boulders, and scattered logs
like the bones of an anadromous sea dragon, while laughter of children, songs of women, and stories of old ones wash away only to float back in a few days in gray clouds against evening patches of blue and orange.
I envision men in silence around fires eating fresh venison; then, later, moving north
to find new wives and recalling the legend that as long as men dwell by the mighty river,
it will not be the last time this happens.
I think about standing in Maryhill’s Stonehenge replica rising above The Gorge,
connecting ancient mysteries of one continent with another,
a tribute to local boys who died in World War I.
I think of mold. The body of a lover in a bog. Strands of woman hair. A face in a creek.
I think of human spirits freeing themselves.
I think about resilience. Moving water. Seasons. Circles. Spirals.
Petroglyphs. Spring Chinook salmon.
Abandoned sections of the old highway running parallel to this life.
Underwater platforms over underwater raging falls.
Gray ouzel birds flying submerged, catching insects in creeks.
Days I waded the nearby rivers.
Ever-changing shapes in those river reflections where
an eagle or hawk or tie-dyed pigeon flies into a dot then vanishes.