Before Winter

 
Just to go there and breathe that air
and see that river silver through the valley
until I’m within reach of that peace again
with those people along those roads

Just to help cut hay into long windrows
and smell it curing under a harvest moon
then to bale and stack it into their barns

Just to chop and stack firewood for them
and feed their horses fallen apples

Then to wake up hearing acorn woodpeckers
chisel small holes in a tall dead tree
to fit fresh acorns tight into the wood
before winter

Just to hold my breath a little longer
to hear where we quit hearing each other

Then to go back and change some things I said
the way those woodpeckers would carve
new smaller holes for shrunken acorns
fallen away

Or to tell myself now what I need to know
in short whispers here against the cold
that none of us knew then on the changing wind

 

 

 

Divorce Rate in the Northwest

 
What these mountains had to give
we’ve turned into crates for overseas
No wonder we keep missing each other
cry words words and choose dust
or nails for breakfast

What these mountains had to give
we’ve subdivided into wide closets
and no basements
The dog chained in back bites the hand
while we talk of children in Pakistan

What these mountains had to give
gets the streams choked up and gashing down to bedrock
Where will our dreams now spawn?
No return on that stock—try as we might
Seagulls always find the scent

What these mountains had to give
is lost somewhere under the dam
That beautiful girl I once knew
Celilo—angels leaping round her—
no money no silver or green like hers

What these mountains had to give
comes roaring back in a tsunami of splinters
We run down to dissemble in sawmills
fight over blood incinerating
and wonder why the evening sky turns purple

 
For thousands of years Celilo Falls was a meeting ground on the Columbia River where people fished for salmon leaping up those cascading waters. Now it is Lake Celilo, behind the Dalles Dam.

 

 

  

Eugene MarckxEugene Marckx has settled in the shadow of Mount Pilchuck, among sheep and cattle and horses and rusted cars. Second-growth cedar, hemlock, and spruce are the oldest inhabitants there, above the stones. Poems come to him to show the way back onto the path he left as a boy. He is at work on a novel about clear-cutting.

Header photo by James Wheeler, courtesy Pixabay.

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2 Responses

  1. Julia Kennedy

    I love the memory of a forgotten place and the image of the wood being used for closets with no basements. I’m reminded of the sprawling homes in Bakersfield which is a lovable community none the less.

    It’s also so sad to think of a place like this being dammed up and changed.

    Reply

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