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SIERRA RAINSTORM: 1860



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SIERRA RAINSTORM: 1860

The lightning froze the moment With a whip that cracked the dark; And the draining desert valley Looked like marble in the spark. I could see for but an instant That the floods were all about, As they spilled across the washes More familiar with the drought. A miner's camp can take the damp, But, as this torrent fell, It seemed intent the earth to rent To quench the coals of Hell. The canvas drummed 'til my tent succumbed To the wind and slowly split; Though try I might the lamps to light The wicks were wet as spit. I heard a crack from the mine out back, I rushed into the night; With one vast shield the clouds had sealed My world from Heaven's light. My hat took wings and vanished; My slicker slapped my hide; The rain, like bullets, pierced the seams To sting the man inside. Again I heard that awful crack That miners learn to dread; The sound of timbers breaking loose, I slipped, but forged ahead. Then reaching like a blind man, Using words I can't repeat, I grasped at last an ore cart When I felt the lightning's heat. The thunder took me in its grasp And shook my very soul; The lightning showed the mine intact As I stood before the hole. Then a rumble; soft, but deeper Than the mighty thunder's shove, Was slowly growing louder As if falling from above. The rain-drenched earth above the mine Was peeling from the hill; That mudslide started toward me Like a cougar on a kill. For an instant, though it made no sense, I raised my feeble arm; Tears and time were in that mine, I sought to thwart the harm. But I reeled and stumbled downward, Down the trail with its debris; The mud came crashing 'round my legs, I kicked and struggled free. I heard the mine collapsing As I hit an old mesquite; I rolled and lay a-thrashing As I tried to gain my feet. Dazed and rising to my knees When came the mountain's blow; As, swallowed by the churning earth, I fell beneath the flow. The air was pressed clear from my chest, I cried without a sound; ""My God, deny my grave should lie Within this muddy ground!"" My heart raced toward it's final beat, I sensed the mire roll; I felt, I thought, my body heave, Releasing then my soul. But death was not my lot this night, The mudslide spewed me out; Crawling, kicking, lunging hard, I removed me from its route. I scaled a bank and groped and found A firmly rooted pine; I held and cried while Satan's tide Washed away the mine. The rain went on for hours; The desert seemed confused; Shifting water left, then right, As prospecting pans are used. Then came a drawn-out silence As the downpour finally ceased; The clouds were glowing red afar By mountains to the east. The rays picked through the rubble Of the clouds that brought the storm; And the darkness seemed to scatter As the air began to warm. And I shivered; not from weather; No, I shivered from the heart. The labors of a thousand days The night had torn apart. No rail, no post, no timber Protruded from the muck Where, long ago, I staked my claim And blasted toward my luck. But fate was not as giving As the visions of my dreams; That kept me searching through the rocks And picking at the seams. The morning light was shining bright When I let loose the pine, And waded through the knee-deep mud Toward what was once the mine. I made my way through the steaming clay To where the slide began; The mine now capped, a dream now trapped, I searched to understand. I believed that through my labors Sweet fruit I'd someday taste; But now, thanks to the ""grace of God"", All effort's gone to waste. ""So, God, if you are listening,"" I said without a smile, ""The meek inherit the earth, you say; You gave me quite a pile!"" I stood there stripped of all I owned… Of all I hoped would be; When then I learned about a God Who sees what we can't see. I raised my eyes above the mine, Where rain had loosed the rock; And there, upon the fresh-bare face, I stared, at first in shock. As caught in morning sunlight, And moistened by the rain; A foot-wide fault was glistening gold, And God revealed the vein!
Wes Stephenson

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