July 2006


Pat Egenberger: poet, teacher, leader

Pat Egenberger developed a passion for writing poetry and for international relations as an undergraduate student at San Francisco State University when she was introduced to writing poetry by a humanities teacher, Professor H.L. Kauffman, who invited students to write what he called “imitations” in response to literature.

At graduation Pat received a leadership award for her work with the International Students Association and then started graduate work at the Université of Aix-Marseille in France.

Over the years Pat continued to study French, Italian, Spanish, and now Russian. She taught English as a Second Language, English, French, and drama at Somerset Middle School, and integrated desktop publishing and video into the classroom experience. The ESL students won several awards in county area technology contests for their multi-language desktop publication. Later she taught those same subjects in addition to Spanish and video production. The students created videos for real clients such as Inter-Faith Ministries and KidsWorks.

As an activist for teachers, Pat received a Theodore Bass award from the California Teachers Association and an award for excellence in teaching from the California Association of Teachers of English.

Now retired, Pat has worked in voter registration, participated in precinct walking, witnessed for Marriage Equality and written numerous letters to the editor.

She has published her poetry in many journals, belongs to two writing groups, is currently studying Russian and Spanish, and will soon host Tatyana, an exchange student, from Siberia, Russia.

She lives in Modesto with Reverend Leroy Egenberger, a marriage/family therapist, and a board member of the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They have two sons, Jeremy, a manager of computer programmers, and Zach, soon be a graduate student at San Francisco State University, studying mobility and orientation for the blind.

Spiral Vision

A simple rectangular wooden bridge
joins boulder to boulder above the river
that zigzags down through granite walls,
then rests awhile in rocky pools.

Lapping and bubbling the river drowns
the need to talk. The scent of
wind cooled by the river and fine air
is pale like the rock and the
river which reflect white, lichen
green and the palest café creme.

Above, the trees contrast their deep
green and brown against a translucent
sky that surrounds us like a
great celestial bowl.

Light dances everywhere
in this wet valley in which
grasses squish beneath our feet.

Peacefulness is an illusion
where river worries pebbles,
lichen and moss feast on stone,
and trees dig claw like roots
deep in the heart of rock.

Who will win this cosmic
war of living and non-living?
The denouement is hard to fathom
for one who sees one minute
of one of the millennial plays.


The pine trees are climbing the Unicorn
And Cathedral Peak like an army
Of patient Sisyphus clones, rooting through
The faintest cracks, drinking from a
Handful of soil, lunging sideways
Against the torrent of wind, sun, ice, snow.

When a lone pine raises a scruffy needle
Or two from the highest peaks,
Will it be time for the gods
To belch from the belly of the Earth
New sheets of granite
Crushing, tumbling, grinding
Centuries of cellulose spirit
Beneath their bony feet?

Tuolumne in August

Crisp light
The river slides
Over reddened granite
Bending sharply between boulders
A song

A song
Of constant plunge
Through an ancient meadow
Where glacial eratics stand like
Wise men

Wise men
Who could tell us
Stories of clinging pines
And granite domes and granite peaks

For their weighty
Mass to move once again
To freeze and thaw and crush and grind
A hymn

A hymn
To nature’s length
And depth and breadth which dwarfs
Our sense of self in this vast space
And time

Five Views — Pothole Dome

View—Pothole Dome
Has ruffled skirt like a
Sumerican goddess praying

Base view—
A crevasse cuts.
Thus lodgepole pines can curl
Root tentacles, splaying a soil

Top tree—
Bowed trunk, branches
Bunched, clutching sun and rain,
Oddly asymmetric balance,
A clown.

Side view--
Scalloped pot holes,
Rotten rocks, visiting
Cousins carried by glaciers’ glide—
East face.

From half
Way—peaks and domes
Circle and cleave sky and earth;
Trees blanket hill flanks; rivers crawl