Gods of Place

(26 August - 7 December 1990) after Rudyard Kipling

Children repeat rhymes in the Encinal schoolyard that no grownup ever taught them. Under the Chaucer Street bridge, they have painted their names and lewd signs. These are not the gods that we profess to love, but they persist. Most history is not remembered to preserve the lessons in it. Spanish soldiers, caught in the rain, huddled in abandoned Indian huts until, swatting their sombreros, ran out yelling las pulgas, las pulgas, las pulgas. That became Rancho del las Pulgas, and, the path, Alameda de las Pulgas, Avenue of the Fleas. The Palo Alto is a tall redwood tree beside San Francisquito Creek drawn on the map to mark the place where Portola camped during the expedition in which he found the San Francisco Bay. That time is gone, but one can stand beneath the tree. Mister Flood’s son build the white house for his bride but killed her on their wedding night. That’s the main building of the Peninsula School. The civilized gods govern the surface of civilization. Under the surface is the soil that doesn’t need to be remembered.