Palos Colorados

Christopher J. Adamson

I stayed too long in the grove of clones’
wet declension, tall and thin,
too upwardly ambitious
perhaps or perhaps will grow thicker—
elevation first then, afterthought, foundation.

Redwoods after rain, I remind myself,
aspire precariously, as did in the first days the first
generation here—that felled first that ‘sea of stumps’ 
after only twenty years’ settlement, redistribution.
In the grove of clones regrown

—second, third—nothing is lost but fiction;
Protestant loggers fashioned in fables saw
a ‘forest of huge redwood timber’
already hewn in noun, ‘timber’ 
older than any human structure

felled countlessly by 1860, seas and seas of massive 
density a matter of revision
in calloused red, in use-wood, 
in misuse once ‘discovered’ inspired
cross-bay embarkments, browns of decay.

Foreshortened, how large the world would be
after redwoods, I remind myself, rain.
Larger than we. Log your little churches.
Worn into roads logging lanes
bled timber to the peninsulaed few

whose wealth was won on this contra coast,
who could boast red wood walls on which
to fall against, a clatter of coin.
They are upwardly ambitious too.
Perhaps or perhaps will grow thicker.

Said As if this matters; as if as one sacred space
is cleared no other grows, resolute
replacement, where occupation left its groove.

Notes, notations, vehicles for survey or navigation:
In the first days Missioner ships interring into the bay marked

‘two trees (nearly the last of the straggling ones)
south of Palos Colorados … too conspicuous to be overlooked,’
ragged green spires twinning from the hills
caught in the cresting sun,
improbable totems that told them HERE IS YOUR PLACE.

Now the golden state’s golden
gate marks inconspicuous stumps.
Seas of them grown into clones as said.

Foreshortened, how large the world would be.
Too long in the grove of clones I
stayed and saw and saw.
Notes, notations, vehicles for survey or navigation.
Will these we cut; smog marsh; glittering silicon bay.


                        (Redwood Regional Park, Oakland)