(Gary Snyder, Turtle Island, 1974, pp. 82-85)

TOWARD CLIMAX

I.

salt seas, mountains, deserts—
cell mandala holding water
nerve network linking toes and eyes
fins spacer.gif legs spacer.gif wings—
teeth, all-purpose little early mammal molars.
primate flat-foot
front fore-mounted eyes—

watching at the forest-grassland (interface
richness) edge.
scavenge, gather, rise up on rear legs.
running—grasping—hand and eye;
hunting.
calling others to the stalk, the drive.

note sharp points of split bone; broken rock.

brain-size blossoming
on the balance of the neck,
tough skin—good eyes—sharp ears—
move in bands.
milkweed fiber rolled out on the thigh;
spacer.gif nets to carry fruits of meat.

catch fire, move on.
eurasia tundra reindeer herds
sewn hide clothing, mammoth-rib-framework tent.

Bison, bear, spacer.gif skinned and split;
spacer.gif opening animal chests and bellies, skulls,
spacer.gif bodies just like ours—
pictures in caves.

send sound off the mouth and lips
formal complex grammars transect
spacer.gif inner structures & the daily world—

big herds dwindle
spacer.gif (—did we kill them?
spacer.gif thousand-mile front of prairie fire—)
ice age warms up
learn more plants. netting, trapping, boats.
bow and arrow. dogs.
mingle bands and families in and out like language
spacer.gif kin to grubs and trees and wolves

spacer.gif dance and sing.
begin to go “beyond”— spacer.gif reed flute—
spacer.gif buried baby wrapped in many furs—
great dream-time tales to tell.

squash blossom in the garbage heap.
spacer.gif start farming.
cows won't stay away, start herding.
weaving, throwing clay.
get better off, get class,
make lists, start writing down.

spacer.gif forget wild plants, their virtues
spacer.gif lose dream-time
spacer.gif lose largest size of brain—

get safer, tighter, wrapped in,
winding smaller, spreading wider,
lay towns out in streets in rows,
and build a wall.

drain swamp for wet-rice grasses, burn back woods,
herd men like cows.
have slaves build a fleet
raid for wealth—bronze weapons
horse and wagon—iron—war.

study stars and figure central
never-moving Pole Star King.


II.

From “King” project a Law. (Foxy self-
survival sense is Reason, since it “works”)
and Reason gets ferocious as it goes for
order throughout nature—turns Law back on
nature. (A rooster was burned at the stake
for laying an egg. Unnatural. 1474.)


III.

science walks in beauty:

nets are many knots
skin is border-guard, a pelt is borrowed warmth;
a bow is the flex of a limb in the wind
a giant downtown building
spacer.gif is a creekbed stood on end.

detritus pathways. “delayed and complex ways
to pass the food through webs.”

maturity. stop and think. draw on the mind's
stored richness. memory, dream, half-digested
image of your life. “detritus pathways”—feed
the many tiny things that feed an owl.
send heart boldly traveling,
on the heat of the dead & down.


IV.

two logging songs.


Clear-cut

Forestry. “How
Many people
Were harvested
In Viet-Nam?”

Clear-cut. “Some
Were children,
Some were over-ripe.”


Virgin

A virgin
Forest
Is ancient; many-
Breasted,
Stable; at
Climax.