--for Terry

Here on the mountain

The moment of this mountain

This happened to me.



Winter Solstice, 2023



                --for the poet, and for the pastor 

During the time for quiet

the woman in robes

passes by rows of people

sitting next to each other

in chairs, saying,

Take one of these

balls of play doh

I made in my kitchen

and choose the color

you like best. When

the tray of home-made

memories comes to me, I pick out

a green one, all of these

died with food coloring,

and I remember

my mother

setting them out like a rainbow

when we were children

and playing science.

Blue, green, red, yellow,

tiny brown bottles

on the North Dakota

card table in winter.

My fingers cracked

because of the cold.

I place my thumb

in the middle of the ball

warming the dough

until I can smell

flour and oil

coming from my hands

filling the chapel,

and as my nostrils fill

with the rising, what,

bread? its oven-rich aroma,

I’m slow to become

aware of the others singing--

they have left me behind,

the green ball has flattened

into something

between plate and bowl,

shallow, its circumference

in my palm, small enough

to fit into a child’s dollhouse,

much smaller than

the votive candles

lit by the altar. Just

yesterday, a set

of four votive candles

in the mail

sent by a friend.

Votive candles!

Karen and I said together.

But I don’t know the word!

I cried. Votive candles!

Karen says again, and

I can still hear my cry,

I know the thing,

but I don’t know the word!

Listening again, hearing the singing,

returning to the room.

Did I become a child

to hear my mother’s voice?

Was it finding the root,

Sacred act, vow and promise?

Did this happen lighting candles?

After the others leave,

I walk my investment in play

to the altar. This object

offered in fulfillment

of vows, even as clay dries

and cracks, asking

again about devotion and light.

Jim Bodeen

11-15 December 2023

EARLY AND DARK, what she said



what she said, part

of the after-walking

before sunrise

with the walking stick

and the coffee ready,

votive candle lit

new running shoes

reflecting car lights

and the mind

also tuned to reflect

the beloved,

her clarity

a moonlit


in bed, talking,

I say to her,

This is foreplay,

and turning back

she says, no, no,

This is a back rub.

Jim Bodeen

7 December 2023


Storypath/Cuentocamino: : MCKENZIE RIVER RESTORATION AT FINN ROCK: A WATER S...:   MCKENZIE RIVER RESTORATION AT FINN ROCK A Water Suite Winter Count for Barry Lopez Blessingway is used for everythi...




           --The mind is trying to discover and to find its place within the land,

             to discover a way to dispel its own sense of estrangement.

                      --Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

          --Something else that is the case, one species--

            the one that uses fire—is remarkably

            like fire: insatiable…”

                    --Robert Bringhurst, The Ridge

When Horizon fully opens,

the mind born out of itself,

calls for cosmic prayers

from story tellers in animal voices

from uncounted spirit forces

telling how in burn and breath

it was for them, I’d like to know,

the place in book or landscape--

and what it was and why,

and I’d like them, plant or animal,

to tell what happened in the reading,

in the living, in the rooting of horizon

and the reading and living outside

of the book and the soil. I’d like them

to tell, too, of their preparations

for the receiving of Barry Lopez’ work.

What prepared the way for this opening,

this epiphany, or blossoming.

What led up to the breaking open,

in other words than words.

                                What stone witnessed?

This Barry Lopez singing.

This Blessingway. For there were several

light landings, places where the gods

might have set down had they been in the area.

And of many other things, several

readings of the horizon,

multiple ways of experience

separating circles of the line.

His boundary, his limit has been

delineated many times

before becoming life-work.

This singing and this falling.

The wonders of this sewing.

The weavings in the fabric. And now,

each new place within any

observer’s position or range

of perception. His, a place

preparing one for what’s next,

while waiting. Mine is the hand

of one writing with a notebook

held on the steering wheel 

while driving in the dark,

one passing through, who overheard

a man talking about a stand of trees.

Slowing the work, following river’s

demand of slowing the water. This.

Life and work intersecting

land and sky completely apprenticed.

Open to where conversation is surprise.

The listening. The notebook.

The Blessingway in notebooks.

When the moon is near the horizon

the scattering of blues, greens and purples.

Light with a longer distance to travel.

It hasn’t been said yet. This trail work.

Jim Bodeen

31 October 2023–26 November 2023

Sisters, Oregon, Finn Rock/McKenzie River, Oregon,

Yakima, Washington

Existence, Did it help, The quiet woman


“Existence, when there might just as well be none: the sheer presence of materiality, vast and deep, everything and everywhere. Existence rustles. It wonders. It wants to recognize itself, wants orientation. It must, for it evolved animals like us that feel compelled to do such things. Recognition, orientation: how could it begin? A cairn, perhaps. Stones gathered, the largest few settled on flat earth, and the rest built up from there: slow, one stone at a time, keeping things whole.” p. 22.

David Hinton, Existence: A story


Well? Eyes look up

when the door opens,

Like questions

wanting to know.


Coming and going

returning over two passes

the same way he came

Karen’s fabric-cut landscapes

Roomful of women quilting

Jim Bodeen

16 November 2023







        --for Sarah Hunter

Tell me about Barry Lopez, she says.

He said, Two things I can’t teach.

I can’t teach you hunger. I can’t teach you discipline.

She said, After we’re finished here,

Would you like to go over to his house.

30 October 2023





          --for Sarah Wheeler & Sarah Hunter

         --When asked about his desire to contribute to the literature of hope

            on the River, Barry Lopez responds: I would like at the end of my life

            to say that I had lived up to the expectation of that River.

                    --B.L. interview PBS, KLCC, 2016

When he asks,

Where have you been?

Some told him

of their travels.

He wanted to know

what took you so long.

The mind drifts, and I catch

just enough to ask the question

about the beavers.

They love the willows we’re planting.

They’ll replant them near their lodge,

dome-shaped from wooden sticks.

Willows a food source.

Beavers like their food close.

Dams slow water, keeping

it on landscape. Wetland creation,

from streams to form streams.

From harvesting willows. Farming.

This is river talk river-walking.

Taking notes on the Forest Service map

left behind by the others.

Careful with steps.

Can’t rush to catch up.

Don’t fall while imagining,

What if, and what ifs piling up.

Don’t drop these notes in the water!

Last night in the room, preparing,

questions asked of Lopez,

And when you apprentice yourself to the river…

it just keeps going, it absorbs everything.

Startled from the dreaming,

re-locating the others half-circled

around our guide all eyes on the water, half-hearing,

...and if you find water with an oily sheen on it,

poke it with a stick, if it’s natural it will shatter.

It’s decaying plant matter. Yes.

It’s called biofilm. If it clings together, it’s oil--

take a picture, note location, and report it.

Graduate students from Corvalis

don’t know Lopez, don’t know Synder.

Come to these rivers from all over the nation

knowing their hydrology, emptying themselves

from a single van, carrying Dogwood, Nine Bark,

Honeysuckle Twin Berry—that’s the big one,

these are native, for planting. Don’t need to bring up

the heritage of their backpacks. Talking

to each other about artificial gravel ponds,

regrading. Not the logging company

mining gravel for roads and levees.

Disrupt the land in order to create it.

Bury logs, wedge them,

dangerous work to rebuild the flood plain,

for the science of meander. Spontaneous.

An old man taking notes on wonder,

reuniting Elk Creek with the McKenzie.

Me? My father is a fishery biologist.

Take out the bass and bull frogs.

Bring in lamprey. Salmon numbers fry up to 300.

Lopez would cry hearing these kids.

On land and out of waders.

Cut those blackberries short,

Dig roots where you can.

Neat piles. They’ll re-root themselves.

Let Portland have these blackberries,

help them to remember the land they came from.




                --10 April 1932–24 October 2023

             --for Ginny

Dear Ron,

you started poems to me like that,

Dear Jim,

heading straight from there to Jesus.

Jesus and a car full of men

on the way to your memorial.

There’s an image

might make you smile.

Men come from Yakima,

Ginny, imagine that.

There’s a march

nobody saw coming.

I got me some memories.

You and Ginny popping

corn on the stove.

Moen musing, that’s

my favorite. Those

pages come in the mail.

You wrote poems

but never used the word

yourself, not close

enough, no matter

how Christ-centered

it was, to Christ.

Any poem written

by man had too much

man in it,

and not enough Christ.

That’s me, Ron,

in a nutshell,

too much man,

not enough Christ,

that’s what

I always loved

best, what I

loved the most,

and took the most

from, from you.

Talking with your family

at the memorial,

Ron wrote poems?

I didn’t know that.

I loved the surprise

on their faces.

I brought out

all the books you sent,

collected all your

musings I could find,

set them by my chair

on the floor,


to get it all


once and for all.

But I kinda


Moen’s musings,

the one thing

I wanted to say

would be it,

one thing

you’d admit to

being you,

man of Christ.

Your eternal friend, Jim

17 November 2023






The turkey goes into the oven at 6:30.

This bird is stuffed. You left that cavity to me,

doing your own stuffing in the crock pot.

Corn bread stuffing from both of us.

You left out eggs from yours as an option.

I used two eggs and celery,

but let me tell you about mine—as it says

on the box, mine’s a corn bread mix,

not corn stuffing. Homestead style,

protein packed, Kodiac.

Frontier food restored. So add this

to the mix. This corn bread might raise

hell with the bird and the oven.

I don’t know what will happen,

even now.

Even before I put that turkey in the oven

the thought crossed my mind

like it does each year,

that I’m the turkey.

Man in the oven. Baste him

This is no confession.

Cook him in his own juice. Stick him with a fork..

I’ll be right back. I have to go peek.


You’re saying Grace at dinner today.

I loved that Ann Lamott you read me yesterday

sitting in your butterscotch chair. We were trying on

those new support socks you ordered.

Putting them on, getting them over the heel.

They were too tight. Too long.

You talking about Lamott.

Her secret. Even at six she believed in God

in a family of athiests. She had that friend

growing up, they said prayers,

and she was hungry for every word.

Each part of her story that you told got better,

and we decided right then you would say grace

at our Thanksgiving table.

That saves me from becoming the Church Lady, too.

Karen, all of that stuffing wouldn’t fit

inside the turkey. I figured that out,

especially after adding celery and onions--

oh, and carrots, too. I split it up,

putting half of the mix in a loaf pan.

I have no idea what will happen.

You say Lamott grew up around alcohol

and unhappy grownups.

That’s how she became watchful.

Karen, how did you become the beloved?


Last night in bed, just before turning out the light,

you said, There’s one more thing, she said,

speaking of our daughter, those twins,

those two blessings, does it matter which one

told you what? Only in the particulars,

but it was so beautiful. The love coming forth

from the daughters for their mothers.

You, Karen, recipient and seed

of the great Mother-love. I was reading a poem

at the time, a poem by the Canadian Robert Bringhurst.

It, too, was beautiful, and I gave it to you to read

because it seemed to be saying the same thing.

The same thing, but not saying it better than you said it,

not saying it better than our daughters said it either,

but giving us a chance to say it again,

repeating it, a balm, and another blessing.

These lines: We are what we dream of--

music and truth and some unfinished weaving.

Our fire has lasted, and like you said,

How could you tell anyone.

How would anybody believe it.


Even then I wasn’t ready for sleep Karen,

Did you get the title of the poem, too?

Look at it: How the Sunlight

Gets To Where It’s Going.

My God, it’s beautiful.

It’s beautiful again this morning.

And we did have some unfinished weaving

to talk about. You were coming home

from the store and I heard the garage door open,

and then the door to the kitchen.

Two doors open. And like it is in this house,

in this graced dwelling: Imagine,

having a garage! A house for the car!

Two doors open. And there you are.

Your fabric art on the dining room table.

A mountain scene memory photograph

woven into a wall hanging, with portraits

of grandchildren. Nearly completed,

but in a tough spot. Critical decisions.

Everything’s open, you said.

Consider everything, I’m listening.

The two doors. And we look again.

My stuffing’s been in the oven a long time.

It’s golden, but the toothpick doesn’t come out clean.

Is this corn bread? Is it stuffing?

Is it to die for? Those doors.

I know those doors open, those doors shut.

We look carefully at the art on the table.

We get out the photograph that delivered the dream.

We look again where we hadn’t looked close enough.

Here. Look here, at these lines. This shadow here.

How interesting up against those rocks.

Can that be shown in fabric?

The material you used here, my God.

And what’s small in the background comes forth.

It’s alive and carrying what’s easiest to see.

What we can see, but don’t.

We find all these possibilities.

You find them. We see things together

we haven’t even learned to see.

We draw again on separate sheets of paper

Can something be done with this?.

There are places in this beauty-weave

that must be practiced and learned

before you can finish. All of this beauty.

And that, too. That beauty, too.


Check the turkey. Check the dressing.

Dressing itself. Dressing for the day.

Two dressings. Corn bread. Indigenous beauty bread.

That dressing’s been in the oven a long time.

It’s early, though. We have time.

Before family comes.

We set places for everybody.

A plate for everybody and nobody.

One way or another, they’re all here.

Tim’s on his mountain, but he’s not alone.

His cousin Julia’s with him.

He sent photos of them swimming

in a high country lake surrounded by snow.

Wet socks! He said, that. Wet socks!

Everybody here. Sig and Alice.

Your Mom, Dorothy. Your Dad.

My Mom and Dad.

Places at the Thanksgiving table

on our 55th Anniversary.



23 November 2023

The Situation Surrounding You


II. The Situation Surrounding You

       “We are leaping into a future that will go one way or the other.”

             Jane Hirshfield


The mind is trying to discover and to find its place within the land, to discover a way to dispel its           own sense of estrangement.’

                Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

Night driving with the new maps

is no help, it’s still dark in the car

and these voices come at me like deer.

Karen in her fabric room

preparing material

weaving into landscapes

of thread memory,

me driving away

searching river restoration reach.

Mirages can be described,

and memory? Mine, as a child

in North Dakota winters

from the back seat,

returning from Flaxton

to Bowbells. Jack Rabbits

in dim headlights, my Mother’s

voice in swirling snow

on the highway.

We were closer to Canada

than anywhere in the States.

Slow down and then

The Northern Lights

whiteout winds

and Lon Haley,

a child’s first barber,

drunk, head on into the semi

coming from Minot.

Lens, corrected

and empty space

among rays of light

the child’s eyes magnified.

Our school called us Eskimos.

Mirages are distortions

but the child-mind drives

the car’s heater loud

but there’s no warm air

getting to the back seat

where there’s ice

on the windows.

The mirage can be dis-proven

while the memory

must be lived out.

This, too, is Arctic dreaming.

III. This Driving in the Dark. Driving Over McKenzie Pass

The night before the day on the McKenzie River with river restoration people.

First Fridays at Finn Rock.

Last week at a celebration

a man facing me, recalls another man,

You’re like him, he says,

and I nod, going along

for a time, before saying,

But I’m darker, than he is,

and he nods. I’m asking

for something I want him

to recognize, something

like weight, something

there is in me making

this drive around these mountains

this wilderness where snow

closed the byway last week.

I don’t know enough when I walk.

I never do.

Acuity for what comes up

arrives in the personal, in dreaming,

and I’m so dumb in the landscape.

Ears better than my eyes.

This knowing gives me awkward comfort.

What I know this morning

is far less than what I imagine.

I’m trying and make out

animals on the highway

Moments on the River

In waders, trying to remain standing

while listening and taking notes.

Wintercount Cairn



“A cairn is mute and elemental as empty awareness. It orients. It recognizes, but says nothing....for it is about everything other than itself.” David Hinton, Existence, A Story.

He left early in the morning. Early November and dark. He would drive over Santiam Pass and McKenzie pass. He left from Sisters, Oregon, and after circumnavigating the wilderness, he would follow the McKenzie River to the restoration site at Finn Rock near the home of the writer Barry Lopez. Barry Lopez was the trigger that got him here. He Had driven to Bend to hear Lopez read just before the Pandemic in 2019. There had been a fire. The Holiday Farm Fire. Lopez died a little more than a year later, Christmas Day, 2020, days before his 76th birthday on 6 January 2021. During that time of disease and political crisis, the voice of Barry Lopez, along with his writings that had been his lodestar. The fire, too, had burned through here. They had both known the Blessingway. Hózhó. Snow had closed the scenic way through the wilderness the week before. He would have to drive around. This way he would see the McKenzie River at its greenest, those early morning mosses seemingly lit by stars among fallen leaves.

Dark and wet when he gets in the car.

The artist-wife quilting in the famous fabric store.

Questioning your own desire.

Alone with lonely practice, what could be better?

Wanting to be up to the water,

and in it, in waders, up to the waist,

the cleansing still to be done.

Echoes of Lopez? Gone too far?

Lopez in a tent in Antarctica,

40 below after the morning warms up,

What could be more perfect!

River work. Inside and outside of a body of water.

The ear at work in a dark morning.

Slow the river, slow the mind.

The boots aren’t too big, she said.

Because of the wader’s stocking,

your hiking boots won’t fit.

One size larger, and balance in the river.

Slow the mind so you can slow the river.

Put these on before I change my mind.

You’re taking notes on the Forest Service map.

McKenzie Pass, Santiam Pass Scenic Highway.

You drove this green wilderness from Sisters

leaving in the dark. Traveling

through Stafford country, asking of rivers,

towards, and onto, the McKenzie,

Barry Lopez’ river, rivers of the poets,

ask yourself, What do you hear?

What does the river say?

You’re not the first to ask these questions.

You’re taking notes on the Forest Service map.

McKenzie Pass, Santiam Pass Scenic Highway.

You drove this green wilderness from Sisters

leaving in the dark. Traveling

through Stafford country, asking of rivers,

towards, and onto, the McKenzie,

Barry Lopez’ river, rivers of the poets,

ask yourself, What do you hear?

This, Terry, catches me quite unaware this morning, mourning into the beauty of the heartbreak. Diving into it, I'm doing this only because I was caught off-damnit, guard! This is no link! This beauty-way of a wreck. This re-entry into communal territory, oh, yes, I read that book, a friend gave it to me, I know exactly where it is on the shelf, it was Terry who gave me the book, Terry Martin, Consolations the name of the book. This David Whyte, he loves etymologies--I have my etymologists, too, and they, too, wake and sustain me, oh, oh, oh, I see what you're doing now, you're escaping through the mind when you were on the right impulse track of heartbreak and friendship of forgiving, then you knew what's what, you weren't trying to save yourself, but look at softly yourself you better you know you could soften all expectation no should, you're right, no should in this forgiveness stuff, where sustenance and hunger accompany your every real desire.

What does the river say?

You’re not the first to ask these questions.





        for BG, 77

Walking Three Water

Digging stones with character

Cairns for your birthdays


5-7 November 2023



III. Evocations of Barry Lopez, McKenzie River


Walking Three Water

Digging out mud soaking stones

Building this house river

Landscape found in edge dreaming

To bring what is together


Finn Rock tomorrow

Karen quilts face-fabric mountain

What fall emptiness!

Looking out over my hands

Unable to stay on page


When his friend’s request

for a handful of small stones

became a question

River running so narrow

River runs like a fire hose


Reading you Barry

In the way I’ve been given

And this extra breath

Arctic whale ivory tusks

Edges of any landscape


Slow this river down

Take out invasive berries

Those hungry bull frogs

Walking among tundra birds

I was camped close to the edge


Beside a small pond

Cranberry walnut cookie

My once-sweet country

Bowing with hands in pockets

Benign forgiving sunlight


Stops along the way

Literature at first light

Poet’s learning curve

Camera gets out of car

White living willow water


Back home to poems

Flood plain, beaver and bullfrog

Back home to notebook

Don’t fall over in water

And now so short of knowing


Traveling through the dark

Barry Lopez on hunger

Bill Stafford country

Sublime beauty penetrates

Rigging wild shower of sound


If chance darkened me

Darkness brought me to rivers

Textured landscape stones

The people who change nature

Trust chosen companions

Jim Bodeen




First light pullover

Old growth moss-covered brown leaves

Colored water stones


Sing earth Blessingway

Sing rivers meandering

Sing Good Fire’s Return

Sing floodplain beauty

Water blessingway water

Sing tree ancestry

Sing justice liturgy

Sing ethics of oxygen

Sing river trust green

Sing tree ancestry spreading

Sing red-legged frog

Sing Blessingway Singer, sing





A Water Suite Winter Count for Barry Lopez

Blessingway is used for everything that is good for a person, or for the people. It has no use other than that. As for the prayers, you say, “Beauty shall be in front of me, beauty shall be in the back, beauty shall be below me, above me, all around me.”

Frank Mitchell, Navajo Blessingway Singer

But...beautiful. Like kissed tears.

Geoff Dyer, But Beautiful [A Book About Jazz]

blessings to praise the stumbled on stone

Jane Hirshfield,

With Singing and Banners

The first

Water Poet

stayed down six years.

Gary Snyder

Turtle Island




Streams and tributaries.

These are the streams and tributaries.

Streams and tributaries of the Metolius.

This is a surfacing of the underground river.

Walking again. Walking after driving.

Walking lost. Driving lost with maps.

Sixteen miles out of Sisters on 20 West.

Turning onto Metolius River Camp

Camp Sherman store

but that’s not where I want to start.

Water that comes from below,

from the monk’s vows,

obedience and bifurcation.

Far from the fish hatchery.

Surrounded by spring and bounce, so many

unreadable maps, the brown needles

from pines falling with each breeze

with so many options for grief,

bringing this bronze light

this river walk asks our ancestors

to follow story tellers

along this riverbank

canceling all fireworks,

surefootedness in mud.

Miss the turn and end up at Camp Sisters,

headwaters, but not the trail.

Among all that I don’t know, this:

a full-sized river, the Metolius,

flowing ice-cold, springs appearing

originating from beneath Black Butte

what park signs say.

Geologists call this misleading,

believing springs have their origin

in the Cascade Mountains to the west.

An underground river.

 Free flowing, spring-fed.

These are singers who have traveled to get here.

Samhain. Dias de los Muertos.

And today, All Souls Day.

Singers have been asked to open the trail.

What music in cold water.

Water nutrient rich. Plants, insects, fish.

A restoration project before hikers walking in rain.

Resident and migratory fish thriving. Look.

Rain so steady I return to the car, change coat and hat.

Native Redband trout prey on insects.

Down river endangered bull trout

feed on small fish.

Fall colors splashing against the rain.

Red sockeye migrate from Pacific.

A man walks over to me, points

to still water, Kokanee right beside me

on the bank, not a foot away.

Cross the bridge to fish hatchery.

Signs on trail: Target invasive plants--

Reed Canary, Ribbon Grass, Perennial Pea,

Yellow Flag Iris. Herbicides used:

Polaris, Roundup Custom.

Tributaries and restoration sites.

Colors showing up for the camera in changing light.

The trail, all the way to Bridge 99

is no more than two feet from the river.

The man just picking up his mail.

Steady drizzle percussion drops on hat brim.

Big gulping water songs from deep river.

Standing bass jazz solos. Pressure rising.

Beside my feet, eight inch wood markers

with blue restoration ribbons.

Baby trees to the left of trail.

Grasses growing from fallen trees in the river.

Once, where the trail leaves the river

ascending to the left, a grandfather pine

has fallen between two elders growing together,

spitting their trunks, breaking in two

against the two, a perfectly

balanced confrontation. In return

for the river’s protection. The contribution.

A breaking before your very eyes.

Every step as tributary. Look at flow.

Kneel-down knee-soaked knees.

Look at the water moving to the side

in among fallen leaves, the slow swirling.

Walk as far as your feet will take you.

With you, contigo, contributing

to your bowing practice. You spring.

Take in what you can. You tributary.

Trust this restoration and when you doubt

the euphoria of this, hiking here,

smaller into larger, following,

look at the 100 photographs on your camera.

These pictures of November light a responsibility.

Not a response, all that is awe and before you.

The light is raw data, empirical.

Light as breath, your breath in the water.

Jim Bodeen

2 November 2023