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two pieces out of a winter morning
1. up close
On the far side of the crossing
Where the stream swung under a cliff
There was a big boulder, roughly the shape
Of a bull bison lying down.
A low-leaning oak shades it in the heat
Of summers up there. Winter sunlight (often subtle,
As there, in its treatment of what it crosses)
Reached in and warmed it a bit on the south end.
It was a stopping-place. That day he only paused
And keeping his pack on leaned with a bare hand
On the shoulder of stone at the north end. The cold
Stored inside it from last night went into his palm.
He saw for the fi rst time that the stone
With its dark iron tones, deep in chill shadow,
Bore a crop of lichens, round patches, with edgings,
Flower-like in many shades of subdued
Yet luminous grays. Among them grew irregular plots
Of moss, some olive-green and very bright, even
In that shade, some a fresh brownish green, in velvety
Low mounds: a sort of park for the eye to wander in
For a moment or so. He let be, those days, the enigma
He'd studied for years -- the attraction that all
The boulders up here have exerted on him, in all
Their shapes and sizes: say, showing their backs
In the rapids and slow runs of the streams,
Or fl ood-crammed onto canyon fl oors, or poised,
Huge and single on the slopes (one over a pool
He used to fi sh), or choking the side-gulches,