Earth’s Heartbeat

(on a hike at Devil's Punchbowl near Pearblossom, CA)

Mountain-shaped silhouettes
Mark the the tall pale stalk
Of a spent yucca:
Are these its last lines of praise
For the land where it stands?

Above, the yellow pine
Sighs with the deep gratitude I feel
As wind vibrates
Its long-needled vocal chords.

Below, in the canyon,
Slabs of pale sandstone tilt sunward.
The fault line that lifts them
Carves a long notch into the mountains beyond,
And drives a crack
Through my imagination.

A thin bright stream shapes the stone
With tumbling grains of sand.
A pinon tree lifts hidden water
Through roots, up its trunk, through needles,
And into the air.

Slowing, I breathe scents of sage and pine.
This is the silence of the centuries
Between the last earthquake and the next.

No less alive than I
Is all I see, and the ground on which I stand.
Can I stop long enough
To catch the heartbeat of this earth?

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