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The Idea
(Merced Lake, Yosemite, 1962)
By David Meuel

"The idea," Dad told us
as we set to break camp,
"is to leave it better
than it was when we arrived."
So, we picked it all up --
each bottlecap and paper scrap
and aluminum flake
and splinter of string.
Then three of us gathered
some fallen pine boughs
for the next campers to use
when they came along.

It was hard to know then,
in those vague, heedless years,
how clear to Dad
those simple words were:
how they lived in his head
like notes in a song;
how they pointed the way
for each step that he took.
Still, I stored them within,
not seeing that I had.
The learning came later,
as Dad knew it would.

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Document last modified on: 01/12/2002

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