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On the chinese wall

Crew Boss

Hail and wind pound the garden into confetti, blow smoke from August fires, smash a giant willow onto the footbridge. Work all day with the city crew, noisy diesels and chainsaws; log chains dangle tree trunks above our heads. A brass belt buckle flashes beneath the crew boss's vest: Yeah, it's a turtle. Mexico, five dollars thirty-five years ago. I do things like a turtle, always drive five miles under the limit. Women, everyone, passes me uphill on the double yellow line. I'm still learning to go slow. End of the day, give him a copy of Snyder's Turtle Island. He knows work, I say. And studied Buddhism in Japan. I don't have much religion, Crew Boss says, but you know, when I bought my ranch a large beaver was there and he had a beaver house near the river that was big enough to stand up in, really. I took a heavy bar and a shovel and went down there and broke it all in, broke it down and filled it with dirt. In the next week he dug it all out and I realized I'd been wrong so I fenced off that section and I call it Beaver's Acre I'm more or less isolated, mind you, and I like it that way, if you know what I mean, but I owed him that much.

from On the Chinese Wall - New & Selected Poems 1966 — 2018

On the Chinese Wall by Roger Dunsmore

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