El Capitan by Full MoonDuring the day you'll see rock climbers, and at night you'll see their
flashlights strung across the face like erratic Christmas tree lights.
—Frommer's guide to Yosemite National Park
Touring the valley after dark from an open tram car, we view
Half Dome, North Dome, Clouds Rest, Royal Arches, Sentinel Rock—
all ghost pale by moonlight. The thready glint of Bridalveil Fall
mists to the valley floor to join the calm Merced of summer.
In the shadow of El Capitan we pause while our young ranger shares
his climber's love of Yosemite's fine granite, the strength of its sheer faces.
He has scaled this tower of rock more times than he now cares to count
(or tell his mother)—each climb a journey lasting days,
perhaps a week or more spent fastened to a monolith the height
of three Empire State Buildings. Shocked murmurs confess
both awe and curiosity. How many are there tonight?
With his flashlight, he calls his brethren from their rest
and the pilgrims answer, a dozen or more, in kind.
Like wise men, we peer upward, drawn to newfound stars
and find ourselves at worship in their cathedral, each light
an act of praise amid the grandeur.
Photo by Joseph J. Palka III
Future WildernessTeetertown Preserve, Mountain Farm Section
Something there is that doesn't love a wall —Robert Frost
Above Califon, the timeless blue
of a crisp April morning gleams
on the pond at Mountain Farm.
Higher still along the rocky slope,
the trail enters the woods, then travels
down the edge of what my map names
Future Wilderness. I've come to find
this place where the future returns the past.
As the path parallels a farmer's fence,
the ruined mounds snake among trees.
The old neighbors, good or otherwise,
are gone, and the cows too.
No one has made a friendly game
of wall-mending in eighty years.
Each freeze and thaw has had its way.
No pines or apples grow, but oaks,
sycamores, beech, maples
and the delicate white dogwoods
have crossed the fallen stones to take back
ground cleared long ago. The woods
are rich again in shadows, riotous
with birdsong and the scurry of animals—
deep in the mischief of spring.
Without our care to wall it out or in,
the land relives itself and the wild returns
from a time before our fathers
ever spoke of fences.
Miracle of the Wine
God has given us a dark wine so potent,
What is your favorite of Christ's miracles?
Not yet the great rabbi
Jesus, at first annoyed with her,
Cover image by Martha Weintraub
Photo by Frank Magalhaes