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Spring 2000, Volume 17.3



Allan Johnstonphoto of Allan Johnston.

Allan Johnston (Ph.D., UC Davis) received a finalist award in poetry from the Illinois Arts Council in 1999. He has published one book of poetry,
Tasks of Survival (Mellen Poetry Press, 1996) and recently had work appear in Weber Studies, Poetry and Rhino. Currently he teaches writing, creative writing, and literature at Oakton Community College, DePaul University, and Columbia College.


Range of light 

1. Onion Valley

The pinnacles of the sierra
lift up from here
to a sky

now graying with sunlight
and purple near
where water runs
down cliff sides

alpenglow orange upon stone

in the measure of everything
light holds pinnacles motionless
the crag over us
like the home of some
unearthly goat
everywhere alive
like the water
of Robinson Creek

running down a mountain

how can one help but be alive
how can one help but be moving toward dying

2. Object

a green lake in the scree
of granite above the glacier cut cliff
rounds like a punch bowl

a cirque, then lifts
to crags

on the water's surface
wind silently moves
the green breaks with flecks of light
these irreversible patterns:

the bow shape of wind swimming
across the lake continued in light
reflection the moving fragmentation
of water's surface
near Kearsarge Pass
eleven thousand feet
in the air

3. green, gray, white, blue, brown

down the valley, silhouhetted pines:
not up yet, the sun's light grows
smoky orange yellow wash and white line
only Venus remains
of the field of stars spread over us

I sit behind the quaking aspens
witnessing everything
part of the spectrum

4. In camp

a butane camp lantern
flickers in the wind
forms a center
of night
a fire

                and a sense
of warmth
beyond what is watching
if anything
has eyes for us

"that which sees is truly seen"
the knower of its own seeing
or animal eyes
flash like yellow, paired stars

5. Dream

You wake once at night and say
"Look! a bowl of stars!" Then
later, your glasses on
you see there is only Venus
in your uncorrected

and yet
Venus bowls us
over every

sun's guard
shepherd's star
names legion
light one

6. Range of light

                    Kearsarge Pass

At some point everything falls away
into light: perhaps coming into
the pass, or when there is no place
higher to go without ascending
into the air.
                    Light then occupies
everything: you, your lover, rocks, ice
the sky, the trees that ripple below

the point where life no longer is needed.
Rocks, ice, and sky are always enough
in the cycles of time that pivot
here. This is the source of forests:

this range of light forever ascending.



Oregon Law Redefines Boundary Between Faith and Medicine "I'm a conservative Christian. I believe God can heal, and I believe he does. But I have a stronger belief that parents' right to religion does not outweigh the rights of a child to life," [Bruce] Starr says. So the freshman legislator sponsored what was to become the hardest fought bill of the 1999 session—HB 2494, which stripped the shield of religious exemption from a parent's or custodian's duty to provide a sick or injured child with medical care.

The death of an 11-year-old from complications of diabetes is what set Starr on his course. "All he needed was a shot of insulin," Starr says. "There were 120 people in that house, praying for him. And all he needed was a shot."

The failure of the local district attorney to prosecute the crime was the impetus for legislative action. She had cited the state's religious immunity laws as the reason she did not file charges against the parents. At that time, Oregon law stated that "charges of criminal mistreatment do not apply" to a person who provides a child "with spiritual treatment through prayer from a duly accredited practitioner of spiritual treatment…in lieu of medical treatment." — Dianna Gordon, "When Faith-Healing Fails," State Legislatures, March 2000, p. 26.  


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