Camping at Lake Berryessa

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My children sleep
on the thin vinyl floor
while above our tent,
just past the dark tree-line,
the Milky Way glimmers
like cool waves breaking
on the black coast
of the deep mountain sky.

All night
the lake whispers softly
under gentle western winds
as egret and owl
keep guardian eyes
on the sleeping
human shore.

While watching my sons sleep,
I hear the low murmur
of wild turkey and possum
scuffling through dry dust and leaves,
searching our campground for leftovers
peanut butter crusts, hot dogs and beans,
any careless, easy meal,

when I feel rolling pressure
pushing insistently at base of our tent,
and, alarmed, hear quick, powerful,
exploratory snorts.

Holding my breath,
I gaze into the deer’s
questioning,
fearless eyes,

and wonder
if we campers
are part of this
ancient community,

or welcomed,
honored guests,

or simply curious,
rude intruders.

(30 Jan 2011)

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