Photo by Colette LaBouff Speer.

Ahwahnee means deep grassy valley & I’d heard

that, just over one hundred years before this one,
miners had pushed the Miwok down into the tall

reeds. Today, the meadow (that swallowed feet

& hands) has stilled itself near a row of dry riparian
arrows aimed up

from that once green bed that eroded the edge

of the baseball diamond & rusted legs of monkey bars.
I drive past what was once a tuberculosis clinic

& cannot see ghosts—no
spirits rise from wildcat dens. The long dead hide

in fine strands of woven moss cemented

to granite backs that rise from the feet of oak.
Now, mountain children drink from fountains

& I’ve parked my car where firemen practice

emergency preparedness on spring mornings, as gnats
build clouds, as each pine siskin combs my hair,

taking strands to sew their complicated nests.

Ronald Dzerigian is a writing consultant for graduate students at California State University, Fresno, and resides in a small farming community with his wife and two daughters.