CLIFF CREGO | January Inversion Sea, South Wallowas

January Inversion Sea II & ORACLE [click photo for next . . . ]
On the road in the American Northwest.

a reader of signs

The blackbird runs nervously in
quick staccato steps, yellow beak
thrust forward, then stops,
cocks its ear to the ground, then runs
hurriedly again.

Old, old:—, she
sits next to the spring.
The water appears suddenly
at the surface of the earth like
a music which steps
into the world
but reluctantly, beginning
over and over

again, rehearsing
in a whisper the faint sounding
sibilants of an almost vanished
tongue. She listens, but
knows not from where the water comes.

Cool, clear, constant
in its flow, the water is un-
touched by rain, snow or summer sun.

Watching, swaying back and forth, she
places her open hand above
a stream of minute
whirlpools, then looks down into the
swirling throat of the
largest, turning her
arm swiftly in a counter gyre,
murmuring something.

all but inaudible.
She leans forward and pinches off
a sprig of watercress, tasting
the stem’s peppery
brassica, then swallowing the white


* * *

The men gather around in a
tight circle watching
the one, who, seated on the ground,
tosses the yarrow sticks. They all breathe in
with a gasp, their hands
raised into the air,
then pointing down, quickly, lifting
patterns up into

terse talk of
meaning. The man in their middle
slowly traces a form in the sand.

Out of the river,
a turtle rises and crawls to
land, head, neck fully extended
as if it had been from
shore since before the beginning of time.

* * *

The colorful display flashes
as the three men watch the
numbers turn all but instantly
into black figures. The clever talk
and laughter stop as
the message in bold
script steps down from top to bottom,
predicting opportunity, but

great risk...
they must move quickly.

Crack goes the shell, the
heat of the fire fracturing its
underside into myriad
storylines, waiting,
like a hand, to be deciphered and read.

Crash goes the code, the
cold of the night bifurcating
into myriad losses,
everywhere, losses,
like a terrible wind, taking all in its stead.

“All roads lead to the hidden center,”
begins the prophecy. “Very
auspicious. From there, proceed with
the greatest caution,
Follow in steps of 2s and 3s.”

...swallowing the white
flowers whole...

“The yarrow stems should be gathered
in late summer; it
grows frequently to the side of
roads, on poor soils, in large
patches, much space between
completely erect single
stems which are woody and almost square.
The white, sometimes pink,

flowers arrange themselves in tight
umbels in patterns measured in fours,
while the delicate leaves
of many tiny feathers
climb up around the
central axis as a crow calls,
in neat couplets of five
against of two. A powerful plant;
it should
be used with care—.”

The blackbird runs nervously in
quick staccato steps, yellow beak
thrust forward, then stops,
cocks its ear to the ground, then runs
hurriedly again,
a different direction;
it too is confused about the
days, singing now

with hard frozen snow
on the ground.

A fish, (was it a
small trout?) nibbles at the surface
of the quiet pool and is gone,
ripples ringing in the
clear spring water...How did it happen?

Crack goes the shell;
Crash goes the code;
the cold of the night,
a myriad storylines, waiting,
like a wind, taking all in its stead.

How did it happen?
She looks and sees...
She looks and sees...
Before, after,

It took the
whole world
by surprise.

| download mp3 | 6 Mb [Windows: r click; Mac: opt + click] |
Oracle is included in Part IX of my Fireweed Poems

Please visit my MOUNTAIN WATER print gallery Above is a set of recent flowing water images. (Mouseover for TITLES & CONTROLS!)

I might just mention here that, following the simple, basic ethical principle, First, do no harm, I never use cars or jeeps or or snowmachines. Instead, I do everything on foot, bike or ski. I think this in a deep and direct way affects my work, and how I see and experience the world generally. So know thaty all the photos collected here were approached on foot -- including all the in between spaces -- sometimes involving journeys of weeks, or even months.

I would not want to work any other way . . .

All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego © 1999-2015
(created: I.26.2009)