A MONTH BEFORE ST. HELENS ERUPTED

by Jnana Hodson

Cleman, elevation 4884 at the abandoned lookout
though it goes taller.

“You need to get some exercise,”
as my wife said.

stiff wind at the former lookout, radio shacks, and towers
the slope below cluttered with battery debris
of carbon rods and bits of metal

streams of black scree

stones bouncing down
scare out four mule deer
bounding away below me

before two eagles soar past
one, hissing

the other with white chevrons
or boomerangs
on its wings

the fingerlike feathery extensions

on downed trees
needles as furry branches

on the return
a snake shot in two
I should have stopped
to collect the rattles

the jumble of Aix, Bismark, Shellrock
and Sawtooth

a battered coyote skull
the angular nose the identifying clue
in what was left

the faint, acrid dry-warmth aroma
of high country
(sage or whatever)
mixed with ceder, fir, hemlock, tamarack, or pine

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Copyright 2015

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