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Driving Home From Yosemite in the Dark

It’s been so long ago now, Sweet One–
The Time That Land Forgot...

Sitting in my car
Near Bridalveil Fall
I can’t help but think about
The Time we spent together

The Sun sets early
In Yosemite Valley
Bringing on a soft, muted daylight
That beckons one fond farewell

One mustn’t overstay one’s welcome
And there are things outside to do
But while we’re here
We can taste that
Little bit of paradise
That slips through our fingers so easily
In the humdrum day-by-day

I offer my hand
And you take it–
Your hand, so welcome to the touch–
If I had known our time was
Winding down then
I would have tried ten times as hard
To soak up the good feelings
That day

A flock of twenty deer
Spoke to our hearts
–The deer seeing us
As a mirage,
Their eyes glowing,
Saying, “We exist. We are here.”
“We don’t mind if you drive by.”

I chastise myself now
For remembering the little things–
My new green wallet
Your blue mini-sized flashlight–
When there’s so much more
I wish I had remembered

I miss also all the non-essential things
All the tangential tidbits that bring
Momentary takes and double-takes–
Those all run off at right angles
To the whirring centrifugal power
Of desire and longing
If you have it, you forget how much you wanted it before
And in that momentary lapse the whole structure can slip away
And one turns one’s head quickly in a panic
Trying to reach and grab ahold of that last remaining
Tenuous gossamer thread of love’s attachment
Tearing it in two, to be joined again nevermore

I wish you’d tell me what to do
So that we could start afresh
But if we do, then it will be “thus and so”
And not what it once was “there and then”...

How I dread living in this dank, dark tunnel
Of love’s absence–
My intentions in driving slightly forward that time
Were to back in, to afford a better outlook
On the entire panorama,
But you misunderstood
And left me looking in the mirror,
Seeing no one but strangers

Oh what I would give
To be able to walk up and down
The twilight path with you
To Bridalveil Fall
Any kind of small talk would do
Because it’s the being together that really matters

At night, alone on the trail
We see only the stars
And the dark silhouettes of trees
In front of the waterfall
A tiny light far above
Shows where rock climbers are resting
We pause on the stone bridge
Then head back, alone on the trail
Protected by nothing but the
Sea of warm mountain air this late night
A little joke about SpongeBob and
Walking on the ocean floor
Fends off possible misgivings about
Stephen King clowns hiding behind
The trees in the parking lot
As double protection, I launch into
My prepared spiel about
Martin Short characters
Dancing in a chorus line and
Emerging from the forest
The long expected grin on your face
And giggle you can’t suppress
Communicate that we do live
In a benevolent universe
After all

Back on the road we
Drive around a bend and
See a deep red moon
Above the trees
We clasp hands in recognition
And the mutual touch triggers
Memories of our first hand-holding
Outside the steakhouse during our
First date, and our long walk that night
To the record store

Now so many full moons later
So long after our parting
The summer solstice has gone by for me
And will soon for you, too
But there’s still plenty of light on the other side
It just doesn’t make sense to me that two people
Would live out their lives alone and unhappy
When they could be together

But here I am now
Driving up this mountainside alone
In the dark
As longing gives way to
Confidence, and
Confidence gives way to
Longing, in these never-ending
Soul-withering repetitions of
Guessing and second-guessing and
Woe is me–
Giving new meaning
To Britney’s “Toxic” musical musings
That we made out to that night
Driving home from Yosemite
At the make-shift Lover’s Lane
At the dirt well in the road
At the top of Road 620
Overlooking the town,
Watching the shiny moon climb higher in the night sky
With only Britney and the grasshoppers to keep us company
And remembered moments
That are too precious to put on paper

Remember how I remarked that people
In the dark hills in the distance
Should be able to see our headlights
Just like we see their scattered porch lights?
In real life now
I can’t go back there alone
Since the pain would be too great
And I can’t afford to lose
More pieces of my soul
In a futile wait for your return
I can’t promise where I’ll be, Sweetie
If and when you come
But somehow it feels deep down
That we are living in
The best of all possible worlds, and
I truly hope that we are —
The dings and sparrows of occasional outlandish misfortune

I do so wish that you’d find me
And say you want me again
Because there’s not much time left, Sweetie
Before you change from being a real person in these lyrics
To being only a metaphor
It’s something that I desperately don’t want to happen
I think you will feel likewise someday
But I don’t know how to bridge the gap in time
To pull it tighter, so that we can be together again

That night when we drove through Oakhurst together
I’m sure I told you about the old Bigfoot Diner
Where I never ate actually
But passed by many times as a teen
Now that’s the kind of metaphor or myth we can live with
Sharing it together
In the same place and the same time

The world is shrinking, Sweetheart
People’s lives are now overlapping
In many wondrous ways
(Who would have thought that I'd get an e-mail
From a Beatles girlfriend
While writing these words
Just four lines ago?)

If you really do still love me
Then is this what you really want to do?
Stay apart forever in a world where people are coming together?
Well, that’s a rhetorical question obviously
Because all I can do now
Is launch this poem into the wind
Being carried by a balloon of love
And trust and hope that someday
It will land at your feet
And you’ll be touched by it and feel moved

There’s nothing else I can do at this point, Sweetie,
Except tug on your heartstrings through words
The rest is up to you
I mean it really is
And you know that I believe that words do have meaning

Descending below 1,000 feet
And back to the Central Valley floor
On Highway 41
A dove outside in my peripheral vision
Flies across my path
Within inches of the rooftop of the car
And I think of you

Stepping out of the car
Into the crisp night air
In the city
I feel 19 again—
Younger than you were
When we first met
And I can hang onto
So much of that mentality
Though the world doesn’t
See me that way—
At least not at first

So much of me
Is organic to this time
And this place
That it’s going to be really
Hard to leave

Though I may soon be
Elsewhere on this planet
You’ll know that
Wherever I am
You’ll be part of the
Warp and woof of
My consciousness

If you didn’t know it then
Please know it now:
You were loved.