The Crystal in Tamalpais

By Joanne Kyger b. 1934 Joanne Kyger

    In Tamalpais is a big crystal. An acquaintance told
me the story. A Miwok was giving his grandfather’s medicine
bag to the Kroeber Museum in Berkeley. He said this man
took him over the mountain Tamalpais, at a certain time
in the year. I believe it was about the time of the
Winter Solstice, because then the tides are really low.
They stopped and gathered a certain plant on the way over
the mountain. On their way to the Bolinas Beach clam patch,
where there is a big rock way out there.

                                                                            Go out to
the rock. Take out of the medicine bag the crystal
that matches the crystal in Tamalpais. And
                                              if your heart is not true
                                              if your heart is not true
when you tap the rock in the clam patch
                                                            a little piece of it will fly off
                                                   and strike you in the heart
                          and strike you dead.

And that’s the first story I ever heard about Bolinas.

Joanne Kyger, “The Crystal in Tamalpais” from About Now: Collected Poems. Copyright © 2007 by Joanne Kyger, published by the National Poetry Foundation.  Reprinted by permission of Joanne Kyger.

Source: About Now: Collected Poems (National Poetry Foundation, 2007)

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Poet Joanne Kyger b. 1934

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Mythology & Folklore, Fairy-tales & Legends

Poetic Terms Free Verse