Neal Dachstadter

COLUMBIA PLATEAU

Unto long and ancient knoll
Unto early wheat on roll-
ing, folded hill besot with lake
Unto Quaking Aspen brake

And cobalt sky afire with heat
Shimmer green, O field of wheat
Buxom vineyard, drip thy wine
Ranch and graze, thou peaceful kine[?]

Gleaming rail extend the fire,
Wood and spike and gravel tire-
less track from East to West and back
Burning engine, with no lack

Of movement ‘long the river bank
Long before them spikes we sank?
Primeval motion, first in rank,
the River flowed, and ever drank.

Author’s Note: Riding with Captain Terry Chinen (Hawijah 2005) along the Columbia Plateau and River 2013.