Alison Hawthorne Deming
Pandora on Prozac
That was thousands of years ago
The troubles had not begun
Earth asked so little of us
Gathering antheriums and orchids
Who can blame us
Now whatever we do in this house
The arguments never stop
Specimens Collected at the Clear Cut
1. Wild currant twig flowering with cluster of rosy micro-goblets.
2. Wild iris, its three landing platforms, purple bleeding to white then yellow in the honey hollows, purple veins showing the direction to the sweet spot.
3. Dogwood? Not what I know from the northeast woods, the white four-petalled blossom marked with four rusty holes that make its shape a mnemonic for Christ hanging on the cross. This one, six-petalled, larger, whiter, domed seedhouse in the center, no holes on the edges, shameless heathen of the northwest forest that flaunts its status as exhibitionist for today.
4. Empty tortilla chip bag.
5. Empty Rolling Rock can. Empty Mountain Dew bottle. Empty shotgun shell. Beer bottle busted by shotgun shell, blasted bull’s-eye hanging on alder sapling.
6. One large bruise four inches below right knee inflicted by old growth stump of Western red cedar, ascent attempted though the relic was taller and wider than me, debris field skirting a meter high at its base, wet and punky; nonetheless, I made my try, eyes on a block of sodden wood, reddened by rain, fragrant as a cedar closet here in the open air, the block of my interest wormed through (pecked through?) with tunnels diameter of a pencil. How many decades, how many centuries, of damage and invasion the tree had survived! But the stump felled me, left me with its stake on my claim and jubilation to see that nothing of this ruin was mine, mine only the lesson that the forest has one rule: start over making use of what remains.
7. One hunk of dead Doug fir, gray as driftwood, length of my forearm, width of my hand, woodgrain deformed into swirls, eddies, backflows, and cresting waves, a measure of time, disturbances that interrupted linear growth to make it liquid as stream flow.
8. Lettuce lung (Lobaria pulmonaria), leaf lichen, upper-side dull green, turns bright green in rain, lobed, ridged surface with powdery warts, under-side tan and hairy with bald spots, texture like alligator skin, sample attached to twig falls at my feet on trail to Lookout Creek. Day five, resampling the site, t.i.d.
9. Four metaphors for the forest. Plantation trees: herringbone tweed. Old growth trees: medieval brocade. Clear cut: the broken loom. Clear cut five years later: patches on the torn knees of jeans.
10. Skat. Pellets the size of Atomic Fireballs, hot candy I loved as a child. This, more oval. Less round. Not red. But brown. Specimen dropped by Roosevelt elk savoring the clear cut’s menu of mixed baby greens. One pellet broken open to reveal golden particles. Light that traveled from sun to grass to gut to ground to mind. Forest time makes everything round, everything broken, a story of the whole.
Glooscap in Wolfville
Off the bay ferry from Saint John,
Along Highway 1 with Digby Neck stretched
planted by English who’d kicked out
Glooscap napping on Blomidon Head,
who stayed and when the people came taught them
flight simulator training (“very military”), Shakespeare in summer,
from the ice of Inuvik who leaves me alone
animal stories from the far North while I live one
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