Gondola ride up Squaw Valley
passing the Balancing Rock—
egg-shaped ballerina on her pointes.

Up at High Camp, white angel torte
ripples of cirrocumulus to my left,
a giant mushroom cloud to my right,
and before me, a Sphinx-faced cumulus.

Once my 8-year old niece quizzed her 15-year old brother
on the Sphinx riddle, and André came up with:
“Dad and Mom at breakfast— that's four feet in the morning.
Dad's gone to work, Mom alone at home— that's two at noon.
Mom in the kitchen, Dad's one leg up on the couch reading—
that's three feet at night.”

And now, what fresh answer will I offer to this Sphinx.
I consult three giant sugar pines— one with four trunks,
another with two, and a third with three, and they tell me:
“The babe is born into the quaternary of earth,
four directions of space and four seasons of time.
In youth, he lives in the duality of
day & night, male & female, heaven & earth.
In aged wisdom, he transcends the opposites,
living in the Tao, beyond yin & yang, the trinity embraced.”

The music of running water draws me to
the near circular ice patch at Emigrant Peak—
west side, white snow
east side, black shade
both melting under the sky fire—
snow death, liquid birth,
and water— deathless, birthless.

At the right end of Shirley Lake Express,
I touch the Ski Chair Lift Poma #57
to honor the number of Squaw poets this year,
and tap Lift #4 to thank our muses this week—
Galway, Sharon, Bob and Brenda,
how generous of them to nourish and inspire us,
and finally Lift #61 to celebrate all the poets
here in a magical circle of communion.

Under the shade of Solitude Ski Lift,
I sit on a J-shaped branch withered
smooth by the mountain wind,
breathe in the Lake Tahoe spirit
in the distant blue horizon, and
recall hexagram 61 of the I Ching:
“chung fu, wind over lake—
image of inner truth. Good fortune.”
A mountain windsong encircles me—
“Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!”

From a field of golden mule ears,
a mountain bluebird ascends
in a solo humming of wings.

The purple lupines are awake again,
their green mandala leaflets chanting—
blue heaven is the green earth.

Peter Y. Chou
Robert Hass Workshop
Squaw Valley, 7-13-90

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (10-24-2001)