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Monday, December 12, 1994

hall creek canyon

hall creek canyon

When they returned from building the kay-dam
(of logs and drift pins, to make again
a place where salmon might yet spawn)

they divvied up: each hauled a pack frame
loaded with tools and sundries, twice down
the canyon to its end, then up the old fire trails

a mile and a half, ducking vine maples
all the way, to the parked trucks. A third trip
for each would end the business,

but night came on, as it generally does;
they might have come back another day, but
as the moon was full, down they went.

One folded and refolded the old tent
and packed it away, while the others sat,
taking down the old sheepherder stove,

dumping ashes, talking. He would walk ahead,
he said, and slumped off down the scoured
sandstone ledge of the dry wash, admiring,

even in near exhaustion, the old moon
drifting among the snags. He came upon
the canyon with its pools and riffles,

and, regarding the first fire trail
as too steep, trudged on to the second,
wading a beaver pond. Logs at the head,

old growth, lay jackstraw piled, and he footed
along them easily, as he had done
in dozens of such draws. A big cedar sighed,

turned lovingly in its sleep, and with
an almost inaudible click, closed over his shoe.
There was with him no axe, no lever of any kind.

He stood knee deep in black water, too far
from the landing to be heard, neatly caught.
What if his co-workers took that other trail?

He looked back as he let slip his heavy pack,
seeing no movement but the falling moon,
knowing that a man alone in such a place

has, while he is there, no name at all.

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