A Song Of The Earth
I found today in the park clasped round the trunk
of a giant fern tree a metal bracelet embossed
with the name of an old Chinese lady I'd seen
many times walking backward down a path
for exercise, clapping her hands. You can hear,
if you like, in bark creaking in the wind, the crack
of falling limbs or cones, the cries of birds
startled by gusts from a Pacific winter storm,
or rain pounding on an ancient fern's fronds
the music of her leaving a world she loved.
Can two hear the same in their listening? You,
me in our darkened rooms, straining our ears
to the "Ewigs" of Mahler's Das Lied as partiers
nearby caroused in Coit Tower's parking lot.
Backing into the long line of tourists waiting
for a place to park in Coit Tower's lot,
a truck hauls off the last pile of rubble
shingles, crushed boards, a flattened stained
mattress, a zebra shade, linoleum tiles.
The bulldozer's blade's missed only a wall
grate, your Bekin's t-shirt, a work boot.
Soot black rats escape into a fennel patch
near the fig tree where jackhammers chisel
into pebbles the remainder of the retaining wall
that fell during the storm when, his house
slipping down a Tiburon hill, Kai-Yu Hsu
asleep in his bed was smothered by sludge
that poured through his windows like plaster.