Magdalena’s Poet

Bruce Holsapple wasn’t born here any more than I was (“I’m not from here/ I just live here”– James McMurtry); but sooner or later you make your stand. Would you not credit Gary Snyder and his adopted watershed in the dry Sierra, or me in my Querencia?

Bruce has been here long enough to put down roots, and he is one of the very few people other than my late mentor Floyd Mansell who you might encounter high in the mountains of our fortunately neglected range outside of deer season. In his new collection Wayward Shadow , he sings our austere highland’s subtle songs, like some latter- day Zen monk praising “Mountains and Rivers Without End”.

Like Snyder, he speaks with precision, but so simply he is almost laconic, painting his chosen landscape with a dry brush, making a subtle picture anywhere you care to make a cut. I particularly like this piece below, perhaps because I too look over my shoulder for our (ambivalently) beloved but subtly feared apex predator whenever I descend through the switchbacks after the sun goes behind the ridge:

“Walking a twisty arroyo

cliff, hillside, tumbling rock, sand

& at one damp spot

shelved in by rock

a cougar’s track

where it leapt down

into the wash

then across–

me searching the canyon walls

from that point

especially as the sky darkened”

2 thoughts on “Magdalena’s Poet”

  1. The sky sure darkened for me THE DAY AFTER you posted this poem–we had to put down our old, ailing cougar that I cared for for over 10 years at the Zoo I work at(he was 17). He always either initiated a chirping greeting when we came in in the morning every day, or quickly answered our chirps did we keepers call first(the most amazing SILLY, ENDEARING sound to come from a 140lb. cat, the cougar chirp!) The following morning when I came in, for the first time, all was cold and silent. Kind of amazing you'd post this poem THAT DAY! All things connected, I guess. He was one of THE BEST animal friends I've ever had, I'll miss him FIERCELY! I actually couldn't trust myself to respond to this post without soaking the keyboard before now, actually…..L.B.


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