From: Poems for the American Brother
“Felled by Lightning”
We are quiet in the shade
of healthy, aging timber –
our flannel shirts dashed with the scent
of shed needles
and dripping White Pine sap.
Again we tip the log between us,
then lift and drag it farther
down the wooded slope.
For brief periods we rest
to catch our breath: I massage
my sore muscles
while you sit calm – first pausing,
then confidently naming the boastful
cast from the branches above us:
a Red-headed Woodpecker.
Since a child you have shown me
what cannot be explained, only experienced
through cooperation and coexistence
with both flora and fauna:
It’s the forest’s constant balance
of plainness and complexity
that frees you, fills you
with its salvation for the senses.
I listen as you talk of Aldo Leopold again –
how he had ventured this same type of work
some seventy, maybe eighty years ago
somewhere in Wisconsin –
just one old-growth oak on the forest’s floor,
not long after being felled by lightning.
Like Leopold, soon we will raise an axe
and wedge through rings of time.
Credit: First appeared in the Potomac Review: 8.1: 101.