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Summer Solstice Inventory June 1993: Raven’s Cave, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

June 15, 2009

1 raven’s cave:
limestone arch?

2 raven’s nests:
1 dilapidating
1 active

5 ravens in flight

1 jack rabbit skull
with a few teeth

misc raven down
misc jay feathers, blue

1 dead raven skeleton:
flesh, feathers almost gone
sternum, vertebrae, femur intact
8 primaries still attached, broken tips

1 rabbit’s foot, furred, attached:
femur, tibula picked clean

misc bird bones, hollow
misc mystery bones
misc snails, dead and alive

misc pack rack middens:
oozing orange guano

misc footprints:
rats, mice
small birds
size nine and a half vibram sole

assorted pinyon shells

misc raven pellets, inches deep
many small seeds:
3 undigested pinyon nuts
4 chunks of gravel
2 vertebra
no skull
few bones

many old cupped swallow nests decomposing
small blue gray downy feathers attached

2 names on the wall:
Sam Cathy
in charcoal

2 female mormon tea plants with tiny yellow blooms
2 male ephedra

1 patch blue algae, small
1 patch green algae, small

sound bounces, thunder booms:
are they bombing Nevada or Utah again?
1 military jet roars through the pass

Baker Creek splashes down canyon

swallows chitter:
young beg for food

nervous chipmunks, cliffs and unitas:
call, then hold still

broadtailed hummingbird
buzzes by
perches  alert on purple penstamen,
then orange-red castilleja

smells rise

acrid guano
rancid deposition

moistnesss of a long wet winter

sweet intense chokecherry

squished fresh pellets:
smell of new mown grass

warm breeze brings sage scents

1 human, female
stalks cave
strokes rocks
fondles foliage
eats almond butter and raspberry jam sandwich
black feather stuck in blond ponytail
inquiring eyes hidden behind sunglasses
salt seeps on to tongue
chapped lips coated
binocs wrapped around neck
no top, purple shorts
fresh scratches on bare legs
rock in new boot
camera in hand
notebook, pen in pocket
hurting heart
lonely loins
hunting for healing
hungry for home

I wrote and revised this in 90s when I was doing field work and research for a writing project in Great Basin National Park; I ended up changing directions entirely and instead of a collection of essays on the natural and cultural history of Great Basin National Park, I published a collection of poetry Desert Dances, curated a desert themed art show with the same title, and hosted a poetry reading. This poem (and others published on this blog including “Desert Dances,” “granite lover,” and “spring poem”) was part of that collection.

For more poetry, ride the train!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2009 1:38 am

    I started reading it ignoring the date in the title and the comment and I thought for a while that you just returned from the trip -so i was about to say:wow this will make a good poem. Actually it is a good poem, and it is so…present, I guess. Like the reader is there with you counting the raven’s nest &other stuff…

  2. June 16, 2009 2:01 am

    thank you!! that was part of the intention for sure–to bring the reader into the present making list!

  3. June 16, 2009 5:02 am

    Cool, that’s a really interesting concept for a poem and really evokes long time, a sense of a place that exists across seasons and years, like time is echoing inside the space.

  4. June 17, 2009 8:08 am

    Yeah, I like the way you did this and the evolution of the piece. It makes a good read, the sort of poem that I would like to hear read.

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