ContentsPutah and Cache: Upper Putah Creek

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Ode to Beauty:
Historical Landmark 839, The Litto Hubcap Ranch

Andrea Ross

Ahead in Clear Lake you'll find a convenience store
where trophy animals wear space helmets and scuba gear,

and you'll end up sleeping in a trailer park
next to the lake's foul backwaters; the place full to the rim
with purpling drunks,

but here in Pope Valley,
cypresses, grapevines, and shiny pastures
open their palms—

and, thank god, things sparkle and roll. You stop
your car by the rusted wire gate. Heat shivers
off discs stacked on the roof, hailing from fences:
nissan, ford, toyota, volvo, chrysler,

a mantra for this kind of summer—rolling
as you did when you were cheap
enough to pull it off, and you'd eat cabbage with cayenne
from a hard plastic bowl, sit in a piney canyon
and call it Good.

Litto the Hubcap King said:
"You make do with what you have."

Your friend at art school forged a suit of armor
from what she found while walking on the road.

—Litto, too, liked bottles, pull-tops, hood ornaments. . .

You don't walk to the ranch house to ask questions:
where did they come from? which were his favorites? did he pray?
You don't really want the answers.

—And it is beautiful: the boiling and sky-reaching
summer; your truck, your dog, your man, rolling—

The space-animals at the grocery store,
the trailer parks encrusting Clear Lake
like murky jewels, the armor you wear,
the place where you pray.

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