The Cabin

That morning I finally got away
I took some clothes and my grandmother’s picture
and Duffy who was never his dog

and drove north up into the Los Padres Forest,
a place he had never been.
I found an old green A-frame half hidden by pines
and as soon as I could, I moved in.

There’s a lot I’m skipping. I want to get to the blue jays.

The cabin was one tall room with a big window.
Up a rickety stair was a loft where I slept
under another window, stars hanging over my head.

The only heat was a pellet stove.
All night long I listened to the trickle of pellets
and watched the slow firelight moving on the cedar.

The day I moved in, a dozen Steller’s jays
were leaning from the piñon pines, yelling
and waving their crests.
They seemed to be expecting me.

They’d hang out in the piñons or on the railings
and chat back and forth while I sat in the sunshine.

I spent a lot of time just sitting in the sunshine.

I wasn’t writing yet. For so many years
it had not been safe for me to write anything down.

The place smelled clean, like pine pitch and granite.

I could leave a notebook out on the table
or a book I was reading
and nobody would go through it .

I could write down exactly what I was thinking.

Maybe you know what I mean when I say
it felt like shooting a gun
to write things down like that.

It took two hours to drive to work but it was worth it.
I had a dog with a loud voice.
I could lock and bar the door.
And there were the jays.