16 Aug
Posted in: Poems
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What Returns


I’m getting ready to leave on Sunday for a 10-day retreat at Spirit Rock, which is located near San Fransisco in beautiful northern California, where the land and the climate seem so much like Tuscany, and yet…..

Why California Will Never Be Like Tuscany
by Gary Snyder

There must have been huge oaks and
pines, cedars,
maybe madrone,

in Tuscany and Umbria long ago.
A few centuries after wood was gone,
they began to build with brick and
Brick and stone farmhouses, solid, fire-
steel shutters and doors.
But farming changed.
60,000 vacant solid fireproof Italian
farm houses
on the market in 1970,
scattered across the land.
Sixty thousand affluent foreigners,
to fix them,
learn to cook, and write a book.
But in California, houses all are wood–
roads pushed through, sewers dug, lines
laid underground–
hundreds of thousands, made of strand-
board, sheetrock, plaster–.
They won’t be here 200 years from now
–they’ll burn or rot.
No handsome solid second homes for
Thousand-year later wealthy
Melanesian or Eskimo artists and writers
— oak and pine will soon return.


(photo: Spirit Rock dormitories) 


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