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He still carried the rifl e,
from habit, and his liking
for it. But lately he'd come
just to take the track up there
between the trees, to the bluff ,
then down to the creek, to see
how things were out there that day.
He had done all you did for
the degree. They were leaving
that place, for one with no woods
but plenty of cactus; then
on to a place with ocean,
and mountains. They settled there,
knew the mountain trails, the streams,
knew shores after winter storms
left them stony, driftwood-strewn;
knew the salt-marshes, russet
in winter, where shore-birds came
from the far north. Certain days
they've had there stay in his mind,
none more detailed, none clearer,
than the day he saw the fox.
August 11, 1996
Note: The ancient Greeks saw that such places were sacred and had a goddess. You
disregarded her at your peril. She was Artemis, and as my Oxford Classical Dictionary
words it, `her proper sphere is the earth, and specifi cally the uncultivated parts, for-
ests, and hills, where wild beasts are plentiful.' Not to have been able to spend suffi
cient time appropriately in such places would have made me waste away in the other
phases of my life.