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After the Sale

Down Harkins Fire Road


Faults, Volcanoes and Hawks

Gravenstein Dreams

Hopscotch Game Drawn on a Park Road

The Mammoth in the Garden


On Not Being Pat

On the Road to Santiago and Other Journeys

On the Plaza de los Charcos Luminosos

1. The Fish in the Plaza
2. "CH + JM"

The Purple Polka-dotted Wheelbarrow

Sutter Street, 2 a.m.

Zoo Stew

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Gravenstein Dreams

The August perfume of Gravenstein apples
pervades my sleep. A plop of fruit
dropping to soft earth wakes me;
the North Star glints through my onetime
bedroom window. I forget the score
of years gone by since this was home.

I first fell in love with night's
wonders at seven on a canvas tarp
thrown down over the burn pile's
charcoal remains between rows
of propped apple trees. The Big
Dipper swung past and Scorpio
loomed, punctuated by meteor streaks.
Bats whistled and clicked; a great
horned owl boomed from the big
oak on the hill. Toads plumped
in the dust. I tried to count all
the stars, but morning sun woke me.

Even now, Sonoma's hills
and trees rule my sleep's geography.
At dawn in that country, I creep
in wet, waist-high sedges on the Laguna
de Santa Rosa's banks; a great
blue heron glides between mottled
grey valley oak trunks and drops
through mists pooled over murky waters.

I cling to hay bales stacked
four high in back of my father's
'63 Chevy truck as we bump
across an old flower seed
farm's cracked adobe, away
from a yellow stack the size of three
whales laid end to end;
chaff flies into my hair
and a throng of red-winged blackbirds
erupts from grain the balers missed.

My father drives his tractor between
trees, the stoneboat carrying the metal tank
sluices through dust behind him; I slosh
endless buckets of water on seedlings
as tongues of fog race eastward,
maroon and salmon in the setting sun.
I think of nights I wander the Santa
Cruz Mountains' foothills above
my adopted home of Silicon Valley,
where a frenzy possesses the nightscape below -
engines roar and tires squeal
over its asphalt shell - so
unlike the cricket darkness of this summer
orchard in Sonoma's western hills.

More barking dogs break
the stillness; more trucks and commuters
now rumble down Gravenstein Highway.
The Northwestern Pacific tracks
are torn up. The cannery's closed,
clanking machinery silent; the rank
smells of vinegar and fermented pommace
no longer fill morning air.

Yet dark streaked apples still
bow the branches, and fallen fruit
crunches underfoot...

Spilt Ink logo by Brian Kunde. Used by permission.

Copyright © Geoffrey Skinner. All rights reserved.
Please contact me for corrections or comments.

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Last modified, Jan. 22, 2001