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Remembering St. Helens 1980
Jerral Sapienza

I stand in cues and questions sometimes
  never knowing if I'm sane
  but does it matter, 
	does it tell us 

I once stood on a mountain as it turned within, 
  a rumble noise and though I left,
  there but for Grace 
	my life would end so swiftly
  		as a gentle 
	(I can vouch for none of that) 
   		shake and rumble 
	upset tummy
	tearing from its insides out...

After all-- what's a human life or two,
  a stand of timber,
  a fox's set of tunneled homes?

Deeper gashes still . . .
		What of it?

The mountain lives, no doubt.

It shares its breath and speaks its heavy mind,
 then its head blows off
 and everyone says it's finished.

No.  I've seen the ash in the air again,
	not two months ago,
		though that one entirely fateful day 
		is ten years past now.

Still my memories are cues and questions,
 wondering Who-- just Who-- 
	is Player of this Game?

What's a human life or two,
 a stand of timber,
 a fox's set of tunneled homes?

 And deeper gashes still--

 A world in pain with itself 
	and guilt for generations . . .
This is a rather different kind of poem for me. Abandoning my typical lyrical verse for a much more matter of fact stark form here, the inspiration for this poem was a trip to the Oregon Coast, over the Volcanic Coast Range and winding through stands of timber which had been recently clearcut.

Images of Mount St. Helens' tremendous blast from a decade earlier made me aware of how quickly a mountain could lose all of its timber in a split second, and yet this view of a clear-cut section made about as gashing a visceral impression on me. And this one, unlike the natural trauma, would not heal anywhere near so quickly. . .

-J (ed 12/94)

© 2003 by Jerral Sapienza • Lifelong Learning Excellence, Inc. • PO Box 380 • Eugene, OR • USA 541.343-1202
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