Peavey, Mitchell’s Boom, 1953

 
What my father couldn’t say
         is how he put together the sound
of the donkey engine starting up
         with the strain of cables biting
into bark & so understood that the new guy
         was dumping a truckload of logs
from the boom deck into the salt
         without checking whether anyone
was down below still rafting the strays
         from the prior load, which was,
in fact, what my father was doing,
         balanced on the butt of a red cedar
about to hook another with his pike
         pole, his cork boots giving him enough
traction on the otherwise slick wood that he chucked
         his pole to one side & dove for the bottom,
praying the tide was high enough to keep
         the logs off him, but so scared when he hit mud
he tried to dig himself even deeper, squirming between
         two fat deadheads lying parallel
to one another in the black muck,
         frantically wishing he was part geoduck,
sinuses aching from the pressure, his left palm
         catching on the hook of a lost peavey buried
in the sludge, holding himself down with it
         while the logs above tore up the bright green
rug of the surface, some of them tumbling
         all the way to the bottom, but bouncing off
the sunken hemlocks on either side of him,
         so that only his right shoulder was bruised,
& he couldn’t tell you how, though it felt like
         something with tentacles was squeezing his chest,
he was able to stay down long enough to wrench
         that peavey from the mud & haul it left-handed
through a shower of bark scraps up to a surface still
         shuddering & heaving with logs, having no idea his
stubborn eldest son would break the handle
         sixty-five years later while trying to roll a windfall
white fir & would order a new handle made of radiant
         ash from the Joseph Peavey factory back in Maine,
because a good tool, by god, might some day save your ass
         & is something you do not waste.

 

 

  

Anna’s

for Sally

 
“Abiding year around,” says one field guide,
No longer a migrator following the bright
Names of flowers south, hence this splotch of color
In the front window, drawn by the orange
Vision of nasturtiums in a pot on the porch, checking
Each wilted blossom before turning to hover
Right up against the glass. It’s four months
Since the last rufous left for the easy life. The
Anna’s is tougher, persisting through frost, snow,
Rain, & the gray-on-gray times. Very like
You, I often think: abiding, “staying on,”
Persistent, seeking out every splotch
Of color in the bleached, anemic days, as love
Enjoins, as strength demands, waiting out the lean
Months for the good, waiting for light, bearing your own.

 

 

 

Samuel GreenSamuel Green’s most recent collection of poetry is All That Might Be Done (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2014). A new collection, Disturbing the Light—also from Carnegie Mellon—in the fall of 2020. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Header photo of Swedish stamp by Boris15, courtesy Shutterstock.

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2 Responses

  1. Peggy Shumaker

    A good tool, by God. And love. Ah Sam, what more could we ask? xo

    Reply

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