Photo by Anna Seeley on Unsplash
And rolling grasslands
All wildflowers in the spring
Dotted with graves
Backed up to the foothills
Blue mountain peaks
Uplifted behind them.
A grove of willows
Near the creek,
Gather sweet music
In the northwest wind.
Where Mendocino Avenue
Forks at Dry Creek
North of Tollhouse Road,
An arroyo lost in the sand.
Two rock and cement pillars
Are the signposts
Holding up the metal gates.
The Academy Cemetery,
Orderly burial sites
Of the local ancestors,
Generations of pioneers
Engaged in raising cattle.
Many of the founders
Have ornate metal fences.
Most headstones are crafted
Of black Academy granite,
Quarried a mile away.
Families who could not
Come up with the money
For marble or granite,
Wooden grave markers
Burned in the wildfires.
I came here once with a girl
Intent on making love
In the shade of an enormous tree
When no one was around.
She brought a blanket.
Unusual, but not unheard of,
A picnic in a graveyard.
D. H. Lawrence Ranch
1924, the 160-acre “Kiowa” Ranch was a trade
Between Mabel Dodge Luhan and Freida Lawrence
for the manuscript of Sons and Lovers.
Freida, D. H., and Dorothy Brett,
Settled at the ranch on Lobo Mountain,
With hopes of building a utopian society.
The married couple lived in the big house,
Brett lived in the small log cabin,
At 8,600 feet elevation in the piñyon forest.
Located eighteen miles north of Taos,
On State Route 522, the Arroyo Honda Road,
Four miles from the gate.
In 1930, after Lawrence died in France,
He was buried near Vence.
Freida sent her Italian lover,
Angeló Ravagli, to exhume, cremate,
and return with Lawrence’s ashes.
It took nearly two years.
Freida and Ravagli then
Built a memorial shrine to Lawrence,
Up the hill behind the house.
A white plastered building, 12 by 15-feet,
Small altar, statue of the phoenix,
An industrial pulley over the door.
Mabel Dodge Luhan and Dorothy Brett
Wanted to spread his ashes over the ranch.
Freida dumped the remains in the cement
Used to make the chapel’s altar,
A concrete cube in the heart of the chantry
With Lawrence’s initials painted on it.
Freida is buried to the left
Of the steep path to the shrine.
After her death, Ravagli divulged
He dumped Lawrence’s remains overboard,
Returning by ship to the U.S., to avoid taxes
On the ashes, substituting it for dirt.
A Eucalyptus Grove, South of San Juan Batista on Highway 101
On both sides of Freeway 101,
in a wide section, east of Cannon Road
at the 101 Livestock Market,
a hundred miles south
of the city of San Francisco
in the Gabilan mountain range,
West of Mission San Juan Baptista,
on the El Camino Real,
in a broad segment of freeway
(where Highways 101 and 156 meet),
this is California.
The foggy regions near the coast,
in a large Eucalyptus tree grove
towering and fully-leafed,
steeply forked limbs
with patchy and partial shade.
This is California,
the Pacific Ocean, west of Moss Landing,
and the crescent of Monterey Bay.
A place for lovers,
Orson Wells and Rita Hayworth
driving through eucalyptus trees
south in a long convertible,
San Francisco to Hollywood.
Her red hair blowing,
all smiles and in love.
To the cliffs of Big Sur
where he built her a house on the rocks
they would never visit.
Where Jimmy Stewart, and radiant Madeleine,
Kim Novak, drive through the trees,
the Mission, and imaginary bell-tower.
To replay a love scene of obsession once more.
The slow-hand of fog finds its way upward,
In light, and the dark leafy trees.
The road young Benjamin Braddock drove
at high speeds north through the trees
in a convertible Alpha-Romeo to Berkeley
pursuing love and the beautiful Elaine Robinson,
dark eyed, chestnut-haired and herself in love.
This is California.