Glen Canyon Park, San Francisco

Too many creeks run underground,

making low sounds that rumble submissively

through concrete slabs.

But here, Islais creek openly combs through willows

through this city’s heart, talking

in syllables to lone women walking their dogs.


The gray weave of willow branches

tinged with brown and olive green

tunes my nerves to a looser pitch

quiets my worries over schedules,

safety, human noises, the groans, screeches,

sirens of my speech.


Here on this clear day, I surrender

to birdsong, to the hum of insect wings and legs,

to the slow notes of white rock that

bubbled up once from the sea’s green wash

while, right now, the creek speaks the one word

in clear words over and over on the gauzy stones.


by Paul Totah

March 1, 2000

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