Two Poems

By Ed Coletti

The Tamalpais Solution

When asked what he did to take care of himself, 
her father Ahmed would reply, “That mountain, 
three times a week, I walk up that mountain.”

That eminence where meandering plants thrive
in serpentine soils, where the redwood creek
drains into the John Muir-discovered woods,
and where Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio
cascades to Richardson’s Bay opening radiantly
upon the Golden Gate—indeed that mountain
dominating the horizon beyond his front door
as it had long before doors and houses,
animals, neighbors, humanity, et al.

This mountain looming many ages before 
oak and Douglas-fir began sprouting,
eons prior to any Scotsman David Douglas
at Scone Palace 1837 where the sweet quick bread
scone (spoken “skon”) also was born.

When the area began budding with people, 
the coastal Miwok believed that a witch,
not a good witch so many now prefer, but
a malignant scheming witch cast poisonous 
soap root like a fish net over this mountain 
where she dwelt glutted with venom at its peak 
where no Miwok brave dared tread lest 
long-imagined horrors would engulf them.

After pausing for awhile at the  top,
Ahmed looks over all that has been given,
sits to rest, unwraps his sandwich of
salami, swiss, mustard and lettuce
on rye bread and determines that for now,
“All is good,” and prepares for
 his return home to the foothills.

With his back to the mountain’s peak,
Ahmed misses seeing the Miwok witch, 
her arms spread in malevolent welcome—
he, descending, unwittingly escapes
one more time until he will not again.

The Birds of Russia Sleeping

She ponders where tree birds across 
Mother Russia  from Moscow
to the Chuckchi Range might sleep.

Everywhere in expanses of tundra
Curlews  Jackdaws   Little Crakes
impassively retire unafraid while

Arctic Fulmars on ledges
pebble-lined shallow scrapes
tuck shiver momentarily hole up,

But the brilliant little Eurasian Bullfinch
seems too much afire with breast and neck aflame
to ever sleep nights though most certainly it does. 

Tit Birds both Azure and Great ones
may be like the White Breasted Nuthatch 
peculiar for descending trees head-first.

Nuthatches doze in Woodpecker holes while
Capercaillies sleeping beneath Urals’ snowy duvet 
frantically shiver to build body heat once more to eat.

Eurasian Tree Sparrows or Rooks also Crows 
without true song shrewdly navigate the Palearctic 
crossing Scandinavia/Western Europe to Siberia.

Their rookeries perch collectively topping taller trees. 
Problem solving birds with complex social traits 
Tree Sparrows plan so well for night that
She naturally wonders if the birds also dream.