Goodbye to Love Atop Old Priest Grade by Mary Pacifico Curtis

I have a fondness for our imperfect union
that started with a swindle – too much money
for land and a set of plans that had
hung over the place like a wrecking ball.

I pieced together a story of miners and Mi-Wuks
all faded from a view marked now by boarded
stamp mills and raised wooden walkways
in the shadow of the hillside cemetery.

There were no treasures to be found – no
spotted bats, burrowing owls, western myotis,
Pacific fisher, Foothill yellow-legged frog,
or even San Joaquin fox.

No Mi-Wuk shards, no watershed in spring, just
denuded acreage, trenched by rain, thick
with brambles and branches, boulders
and an abandoned gas station.

Scarred chimera where wildflowers didn’t venture,
blue oak and manzanita saplings angled to the sun.
A scab in a riparian forest of black oak, knobcones,
diggers, ponderosas, laurel, cottonwoods and buckeye.

The treacherous climb to this unruly perch, once taken,
a road with no going back. Hairpin turns, sheer
drop-offs, narrow lanes and steep grades, test of
nerve and grit as if a passage to a sempiternity.

You, Carboniferous relic, your mica schist, greenstone,
feldspar and granite have shifted and settled through
eons. Your twenty-seven soil types will long outlast
my flimsy constitution of minerals and stardust.

In all these flawed years together, you – my albatross,
my ignis fatuus, were mine never to be mine.
All these years, we have known that I
would take my leave.

yellow weeds atop a mountain
Red Hills by Bureau of Land Management. CC license.

Mary Pacifico Curtis
Mary Pacifico Curtis is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, seasoned branding and PR professional, and author of poetry and non-fiction. Published work includes her recent memoir, Understanding Moonseed, two poetry chapbooks, Between Rooms and The White Tree Quartet, and numerous pickups in literary magazines and anthologies. Hawk’s Cry, her first full-length poetry collection, was published in 2023.

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