LETTER TO MURIEL RUKEYSER FROM HIGH CAMP LODGE
ELEVATION 6000', WHITE PASS, GOAT ROCKS WILDERNESS
They call these Blue Bird days out West.
Sunshine, groomed ski runs, Monday.
No people. I'm shelling peanuts for Camp Robbers,
winter feathered birds flying to one's ski poles
before taking the nut from fingers
to delight even solitaries on the mountain--
a solitary day for me. High Camp's
one of my temples. I've been skiing out back
and into the Goat Rocks until breaking for lunch.
How to tell you what's happened in our country.
This day started out at Courthouse
where we received witness training
for asylum seekers behind deported.
I'm remembering your witness at prison gates
in Korea, the poet in solitary. My introduction
to you, The Gates, gift from a friend.
Your small steps. An infant beginning to run.
Your poems in my backpack some 25 years now.
This time the camps are ours. May your poems
strengthen our will to close them. Deportation flights
land at the airport five minutes from my house.
The longing, anhelo in Spanish, empathy
in your way of walking: to yearn,
in your footsteps. Yakima
Immigration Response Network:
(YIRN). Accompaniment way.
Besides my notebook, I've brought
your lovely Book of the Dead,
you never held this posthumous book
Catherine Venable Moore wrote
the introduction …following the Rukeyser map
becoming a tourist in my own home.
Upstairs in the loft at High Camp
reading Praise of the Committee
thinking maybe I volunteered here,
These are the lines on which a committee is formed,
maybe, I too have served, complicit,
Almost as soon as work was begun
in the tunnel men began to die among dry drills.
Here, Mearle Blankenship's testimony.
Rukeyser: These men breathe hard
but the committee has a voice of steel.
Sausage and provolone cheese on crackers.
I'm listening to the voice of Blankenship
on the chair lift. Sun is out.
It's cold. Snow so dry, its powder
lifts into air until it's invisible, diamond dust,
silica in a miner's lungs
building Highway One.
12 February 2020