Heaving rain soaked blue jeans
over fallen and rotted fir trees
I struggled to follow my uncle
and father through the forest.
They moved almost mythical,
never disturbing low hanging branches
or crushing limbs with an echo of snaps,
misty bodies weaving in and out of shadow.
For one moment I lost sight
as they slipped over an embankment
and slid down to the water’s edge.
A deep panic filled me
as I scrambled to catch up.
When I poked my head up over the berm
and saw them standing above the slide
a smiled passed my lips.
My father reached tobacco stained fingers
down the shaft of a wooden stake
and pulled a wire up from the murk.
Feeling tension on the line, he let out a whoop.
It was the first set on this creek
and already we had paid for dinner and gas. /
Tangled mass of briers
chokes the trailhead leading into
a dark forest with echoing calls;
a ****** ***** wildly and their
chorus fills the valley with song
both frightening and
exhilarating to my blood.
A chill creeps through me
as the mountain stream nearby
has entered my body at the neck
traveled every inch of my vein and artery
before leaving me at the ankle
and rejoining its own meandering body.
Is it the distant buzz of chainsaw
or simply a concert of crickets, each
tiny violin poised and ready to launch
that leaves me holding my breath? /
Overcome with discomfort
like doing the Truffle Shuffle
on a cold day in the rain
belly exposed and wet
as if too much Ambrosia salad was
piled on a silver tray –
green Cool Whip slopping over the side
sticky fingers sliding
until it finally drops
and some new access is granted. /
Water Skipper rests on surface tension
and I think about the knot in my neck;
if its tiny spider-like legs
could remove the stress I carry.
Long days of summer sun
leave the land dry and
turn green lawns to brown,
this little pond
will never survive July.
Scooting across the plane
the skipper leaves no ripple
and I wish to walk through life
leaving calm undisturbed waters behind me. /
A sliver through leaning elm
lattice branches disguise and distort.
Speckled with yellow, green tree frogs
took the shine as an omen
and sang for lovers with feverous desire.
The goddess of night stirred me also
as I peered deep into the wicker…
I sought a more clear view
but her coyness combined
with the angle of twig
and left my gaze unsatisfied.
Low in a north/ south canyon
barely able to see the sky
I shed a tear for her passing
while wishing for every singing frog
a bright and inquisitive mate. /
Far out past the breakers
a group of sea otters roll and play
in kelp beds.
nearby seafaring ducks and gulls
frantic for scrap
dive and squawk
splashing and throwing a sardine fit.
I stand upon the shore
wishing to participate
but the cold of the Oregon Pacific
keeps me safe and warm on the beach.
Still, I find myself imagining a streamlined body
riding currents and waves
a natural surfer never needing a leash or wetsuit.
The sun lowers and changes the patterns
shadows play between whitecaps
and I no longer can see shiny heads
pop through the surface
scan for friends or food
and duck again beneath the waves
where I can only imagine what is happening. /
Standing at the concrete bridge
just at the entrance to the L-Line
I scan the clear-cut of two years ago.
New maples stretch to the sky and
ferns fan out like a forest compass
each direction, devastation.
I close my eyes to the horror and feel my brow
scrunch. A lifetime of memory spills like the creek below
passing me by, cloudy and swirling.
It is really progress to ends so many lives?
Each stump I pass seems to call out
in a weak wavering voice, asking my why.
I rub my fingers along the chainsaw tracks
shaking my head as I cannot answer.
When my father used to return from work
smelling of sawdust and
gear oil, I relished those scents.
Today, in the face of a forest in ruin,
my nostrils flare against the stench.
And yet, even in my anger and dismay
new growth brushes my pant legs
and I see where the planters have come through with
***** and ***
giving baby firs a new home. /