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.
“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 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.