Thursday, March 09, 2006

Poem: Mendocino Woodlands

Here's a new poem I wrote in my old haunts of NorCal:

Mendocino Woodlands

A cataract of cloud slips from the sun,
lighting a meadow of nettles
whose sting, soft but persistent
clings to my wrist all day.
Ferns droop from banks of moss,
blackberry vines clutch at my jeans,
pleading spring. Young horsetails,
cattails sprout along the path
like oversized asparagus.

In a redwood grove huge stumps
dwarf trunks of living trees,
witness to the slaughter of loggers,
monuments to a time
when thick-barked monsters
ruled the forest.

Over redwood needles
and mud carpeted with leaves,
our dog’s limp is less noticeable
than in the pitiless city.
I throw a stick into the river
swollen and browned by rain
but Kenyon is slow to fetch.

Stick in mouth, he seeks asylum
on an island of bare-limbed bushes
beaten down by rain-gorged waters.
I call; reluctantly he paddles
back to shore, ditching the stick;
the river’s too cold today
for his emaciated frame.

Later in a gravelly pool
water streams beneath his chest and belly.
Contentedly he licks his forelimbs clean.
Kathleen will brush the bracken from his fur
but he may never rebound
from a year with former “friends,”
friends I now think capable
of slaughtering these great trees again.


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