This Life As We Have Lived It

The lake was closed for the winter, 
the first snow was closing in fast,
and the Noble Pine that stood tallest 
near the water slides at the man-made beach 
had already been slung with Christmas lights. 

The three-mile footpath that circled the shore 
was covered with fallen maple leaves; 

the trees themselves were stripped bare.
I followed the slow circumference of the path
and counted the offerings left by the tourists—
empty cans, fast food wrappers, and other 
tithes to the religion of progress—

then I remembered that the lake wasn’t a river;
it couldn’t flow southward to cleanse itself.
Crestline, California, November 2006
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