Did we think death would stop him?
Mountain climber, who rode his boot
down snow fields, balanced on the tip of an ice axe.
Dam stopper, who battled for rivers and forests
in the halls of Congress, balanced on the immovable faith
of the mountains he had climbed.
Old warrior, in Seattle to help fight the WTO
ascending with stiffened hips the six steps
to a makeshift stage, balanced on a cane.
"Elder of the Anglo Saxon Tribe" is how
they introduced him, after an Indian Elder had chanted a song
for the earth; with sounds deep as the ocean,
old as the ground. Balanced on a summit of age
he looked out on a sea of younger faces
and humbly requested "remember that song."
Archdruid, who at 88 lay in his hospital bed,
balanced on the earth,
and said "I'm not dead yet, use me."
Death will only make him larger.
In one silent stride
he stepped from the last peak
into sky, into leaves, into the valleys of Yosemite
and the steaming winter breath of caribou;
into the dreams of turtles
and the imagination of time.
Earth brought him home.
And we, left behind, tired from the climb
do not lift the stone alone. In the wind
moving through the nearest branches
and in the silent advice
of the farthest mountain
the spirit we think we lost
We remember the song.