I could tell you that three hundred years isn't a very long time
When set up against the full thread of human history,
Or weighed against the so-many tons of biological material
That has evolved and bred and been returned to earth and elements;
But truthfully, three hundred years is more than enough
For outlasting family and any touchable now-ness.
It has taken three hundred years to get to where we are now:
Where there are thirty-two language options for the California DMV Class-C licensing test,
Where professional historical interpreters are paid by the state to teach schoolchildren how to pack adobe bricks,
And where plausible plans are afloat to build a naturally-banked river out of the concrete drainage channel LA River which, mind you, was itself built out of a seasonally-subterranean riparian spit.
when Governor Brown the First pumped Shasta water over the Tehachipis
And decided that the state could educate the Cold War's main-frame foot-soldiers,
He didn't foxtrot around the idea that he was the proud father of a newly-dreamt civilization -
Nor did the Marin County back-to-the-land-ers, nor the soap-boxing Kearneyites, nor the Azusa street surveyors, nor the Theosophical Society-ites, nor the Palm Desert cocktail tanners nor their golf-club-swinging seasonal lesbian neighbors -
No, new dreams and odd-meetings are quite old in this place,
And the truly reality-warping woof of this whole place
Is the staggering antiquity of this millennia-long market day.
Yes, three hundred years was enough time to build a casino in Temporarily-Humboldt County,
But, think way back beyond Alcatraz and Ishi
To the five-score languages spoken up these mountains, down these valleys and out into the surf.
There is a spot (I will swear you dead on it)
Where, for who-knows-how-long, fairy shrimp eggs have laid dormant in the dust waiting for winter rains to birth vernal pools so that miniscule, see-through crustaceans can breed in basins carved into rock by centuries-slow scraping Tongva handi-work -
And did I tell you that this is all eight-stories up on the top of a mesa?
Surrounded by stucco-tracked-homes-turned-miniature-movie-studios in the world's pornography mecca?
Shrimp! Ontop of the desert mountain backdrop of a Zorro set!
Who can explain this?
What timeline can contain every detour and borderland of it?
What estuary could sustain it?
What tomolo'o could cross it?
Which test pilot could man it?
Which restaurant could serve it?
Every queer, multiethnic, bearded, jangling, coastal, ravine-spanning highway lane of it?
How can I hitchhike, Bracero, box-car-hop, bud trim, Reno elope and Tijuana divorce across it all,
- From Angel Island and Mussel Slough to K-Town and Ranch Santa Fe, by way of the Modoc County Wars, Tule Lake and Gam Saan Dim Sum -
Without simplifying, essentializing or telescoping,
Without just giving up and telling you
That three hundred years really isn't all that long,
Not as far as the Redwoods and Tufa Columns are concerned -
Just a few rings and a handful of carbonate layers,
Just a light breeze of sunsets at the raw end of the continent,
Just three centuries by Pacific's rolling waters.
- January and February, 2012