It's a gift, this cloudless November morning warm enough to walk without a jacket along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing of your feet through fallen leaves should be enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you when you catch yourself telling off your boss for a decade of accumulated injustices, all the things you've never said circling inside you. The rising wind pulls you out of it, and you look up to see a cloud of leaves wheeling in sunlight, flickering against the blue and lifting above the treetops, as if the whole day were sighing, Let it go, let it go, for this moment at least, let it all go.
The Figure on the Hill
When I saw the figure on the crown of the hill,
high above the city, standing perfectly still
against a sky so saturated with the late-
afternoon, late-summer Pacific light
that granules of it seemed to have come out
of solution, like a fine precipitate
of crystals hanging in the brightened air,
I thought whoever it was standing up there
must be experiencing some heightened state
of being, or thinking—or its opposite,
thoughtlessly enraptured by the view.
Or maybe, looking again, it was a statue
of Jesus or a saint, placed there to bestow
a ceaseless blessing on the city below.
Only after a good five minutes did I see
that the figure was actually a tree—
some kind of cypress, probably, or cedar.
I was both amused and let down by my error.
Not only had I made the tree a person,
but I'd also given it a vision,
which seemed to linger in the light-charged air
around the tree's green flame, then disappear.