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and gusts of baking air -- dry air
streaked with faintest tangs
(was he imagining this?) off
the chaparral, off Yarrow,
off the bitter and the minty
herbs, the occasional rank
sunfl ower, the six diff erent sages,
the streamside Bays, the Yerba
Santa, that tastes bitter at fi rst,
later on, cool; all the while, from
upstream and down there came
the diff erent water sounds
over various distances, changing
with the swerves of the light wind,
the occasional gusts. This was one
of the times when the more carefully
you listen to the water, the less
you can tell whether it's partly voices
of hikers approaching upstream
or down, blent over the middle
distances, varying in pitch,
in loudness -- or is nothing but noises
of the water going fast
through the shallows, or slipping
over low sandstone ledges, or pooled
behind jammed boulders and splitting
into narrow falls -- sounds
fi ltering through the shadowy Alders
and Bays, mixed in with their rustlings,
carried by the air currents
over water currents, or glancing
off the damp stone of a cliff , in
the near day-long shadow and coolness
of the narrows not too far up from here.
Getting a
river and
its watershed
into his head