POETRY: Covers the Ground by Gary Snyder

Covers the Ground by Gary Snyder

When California was wild, it was one sweet bee-garden….
(John Muir)

Down the Great Central valley’s
blossoming almond orchard acres
lines of tree-trunks shoot a glance through
as the rows flash by—

And the ground is covered with
cement culverts standing on end,
house-high & six feet wide
culvert after culvert far as you can see
covered with
mobile homes, pint size portable housing, johnny-on-the-spots,
concrete freeway, overpass, underpass,
exit floreals, entrance curtsies, railroad bridge,
long straight miles of divider oleanders;
scrappy ratty grass and thistle, tumbled barn, another age,

yards of tractors, combines lined up—
new bright-painted units down at one end,
old stuff broke and smashed down at the other,
cypress tree spires, frizzy lonely palm tree,
steep and gleaming
fertilizer tank towers fine-line catwalk in the sky—

covered with walnut orchard acreage
irrigated, pruned and trimmed;
with palleted stacks of cement bricks
waiting for yellow fork trucks
quarter acre stacks of wornout car tires,
dust clouds blowing off the new plowed fields,
taut-strung vineyards trimmed out even on the top,

cubic blocks of fresh fruit loading boxes,
long aluminum automated chicken feeder houses,
spring fur of green weed
comes on last fall’s baked ground,
beyond “Blue Diamond Almonds”
come the rows of red-roofed houses
& the tower that holds catfood
with a red / white checkered sign

crows whuff over almond blossoms
beehives sit tight between fruit tree ranks
eucalyptus boughs shimmer in the wind—a pale blue hip-roof house
house behind a weathered fence—
crows in the almonds
trucks on the freeways
Kenworth, Peterbilt, Mack
rumble diesel depths,
like boulders bumping in an outwash glacial river

drumming to a not-so ancient text

The Great Central Plain of California
was one smooth bed of honey-bloom
400 miles, your foot would press
a hundred flowers at every step
it seemed one sheet of plant gold;

all the ground was covered
with radiant corollas ankle-deep:
bahia, madia, madaria, burielia,
chrysopsis, grindelia,
wherever a bee might fly—

us and our stuff just covering the ground.

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