looking for a cheap motel,
too wet for camping.
Wandering llamas and goats
we’re petting at the Game Park.
Sitting on a rock
drawing contours and shadows,
Coquille River Light.
Special exhibit fossils,
trilobites and mosasaurs.
Keiko killer whale
at the big viewing window
sticks out his penis.
Dawn comes with hundreds of birds
chirping, chattering, honking.
Not far from our tent,
a flock of Canada geese
feeding in the reeds.
Reptile Gardens disappointed Rusty.
He wanted to ride a giant tortoise again,
but all the female tortoises are gone
and no one’s allowed to ride the males.
We didn’t get to pet a snake this time
but petted a young alligator,
some softness to the back armor,
more on the sides, texture like fingernails,
but thinner and more alive.
My father’s house in Sharon Center,
a little after sunrise, already hot.
Dad finally turns on the air conditioning.
I thought it was broken or something.
Why suffer through days like yesterday?
He complains about the electric bill.
I suppose the water bill is why he washes
the breakfast dishes in a pint of water,
This isn’t the desert in a drought.
Given such extreme frugality.
I can’t believe he’s buying me
a complete set of brand new tires.
The ones I have aren’t even bald.
I buy them one at a time when they go flat.
Inspired by a newspaper clipping
in my mother’s genealogy folder
Rusty and I go to Cuyahoga Falls
to look at Mary Campbell’s cave.
The river smells even worse than it did
when I was collecting water samples
for an undergraduate research project.
Mary Campbell was kidnapped in Pennsylvania
by the Turtle Tribe of the Delaware Indians
in seventeen fifty nine and brought here.
This cave is wide open to the wind,
dripping wet on the inside wall.
The view of the river’s gorge is beautiful.
Mary spent a winter here with the women.
By the second winter the tribe made
a village above the rim of the gorge.
Mary she was still a child when British troops
under the command of Captain Lewis
took her to Fort Pitt in seventeen sixty four.
Later she married Joseph Willford
and became one of my mother’s ancestors.
A pine grove at dawn,
thin mist veils a silver pond,
songbirds and harsh jays.
It was raining everywhere we went.
After a storm front followed us all the way
east from Oregon to Ohio,
a stationary front stretched all the way
west from Tennesee to Texas
with really heavy inexhaustible rain
that made some people wait on the shoulder.
I just slowed down and kept moving,
water sheets, hailstones, thunder, whatever.
We dashed across the parking lot
to a small museum’s medium-sized allosaur
looming over display cases of seashells.
We even got rained on in the desert.
In northern New Mexico, between storms,
strange rainbow patterns between dark clouds.
Worst of all was a parking lot in Price, Utah.
By the time we were through studying
the museum’s dinosaurs and ground sloth,
I had to carry Rusty to the car.
The water was up halfway to my knees.
copyright © 2005 Carl Miller