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on the rise he chose,
he sat eating his lunch,
taking drinks of ice-water
from a small thermos.
The plan: he would use
ten minutes to get here,
say twenty to eat
and take in what was here,
then ten more to return,
then drive back to the cool
blue of the coast. He stuck
with the plan.
From his spot
on the rise, he looked at -- no,
watched, a young digger pine,
slender, airy; sunlight slid
up and down its needles
whenever they moved. Nearby
stood its tall forebear, hung
with old, long-opened cones
in heavy, dark clumps,
their scales tipped with claws.
Beside it three sycamores
towered, limbs sprawling out
in the air, and a cottonwood
fl ickered -- its glossy leaves
swivelling on those thin, fl at
stems set at right angles
to the leaf surfaces --