Mountain Hood and Trillium Lake

Three Poems by Emily Tuszynska

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Mountain

Each morning of my stay I walk down to the lake,
carrying my empty bowl. A line of beached canoes
lies tipped on the cut grass, hulls gray

as the low sky. No one ever seems
to take them out. The lake rests undisturbed,
flatly reflecting the mountains

that rise from its far shore, their steep flanks
half-sheared of Douglas fir, slashed by logging roads
that veer improbably straight up. I hardly look

at the mountains. I’m in the brambles,
reaching for blackberries so large you might
mistake them for plums, and by some miracle

even in this sun-less September, enough replenished
each morning to fill my bowl. For three days the air
is acrid with smoke held down by cloud.

Then overnight the wind changes, and the sky
lifts like a blue wing above new distance.
There, behind and above the slopes

I thought mountains, the real mountain
rises, as if fulfilling a promise I didn’t know
had been made. The lake turns white

with its reflection. It is like the evening hour
when the day-long drone of trucks and chainsaws
finally halts and a massive silence swings open.

The next morning, a blue haze, the mountain
gone again. But now I feel how the whole landscape
shifts toward the submerged weight of it,

as the heart tilts toward a prayer too heavy
to put into words. Toward a hope not even named
as prayer. The common hope of a whole people, that large.

 

 

Floodplain

All morning in mid-labor
not ready for the hospital

                            walking the floodplain

 
            the earth still soft
            waters receded

                                        tulip poplars
                                        knotted sycamores
                                        clumps of grass

ghosted with silt

 
the trees leaned downstream
from many floods

                                        I clung to them

 
my sisters
I thought if I thought at all
somehow the term did not seem wrong

 
the ground was washed bare

 
                            fibrous roots exposed

                                        slack water
                                        dusty with pollen

 
we walked and rested and walked again

bowing

                                        then kneeling

to each contraction as it came

 
                                        some bright bit of blue
                                        caught on the far bank

without panic
I felt each crest carry me farther
away from you

            away from familiar ground

 
                                        in the spaces between

                                        your hands

                                        lightly—

                                        the air on my face—

 
perhaps I was the trees

 
                                        their massive trunks shifting
                                        as wind poured
                                        through high branches

 
            perhaps I was the riverbed

            or the light as it pulsed between moving leaves

 
from all about us
a wordless insistence 

                                                   deep in my interior
                                                   the forest       the water rising

 

 

Tundra Swans at the Great Marsh

At any moment half the swans are airborne,
birds loping awkwardly into heavy flight
only to veer back for another splashdown,
wakes unzipping the sky’s half-frozen image.
Over everything floats the constant, urgent
clamor of their multitudinous calling,
layered voices airy with an arctic
emptiness brought to this protected edge
of a landscape rivered by highways, its parking lots
glittering like open water from the air.
Another winter at the refuge, though
projections show their winter territory
leaping north within ten years. There’s no
permanence. Just this cacophonous splendor,
the children too now running in circles, flapping
and shouting, birds wheeling and landing and rising,
the winter marsh all wind and current and wing.

 

 

 

Emily TuszynskaEmily Tuszynska lives in Virginia, just outside Washington D.C., where she often explores the suburban stream valleys and pockets of forest with her three children. Her poetry can be found in many journals, recently including Prairie Schooner, Ligeia, The Georgia Review, Indiana Review, and Poetry Northwest

Header photo 12019, courtesy Pixabay.

Previous
Salmon

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.