Thursday, October 22, 2015

What's more than luck

Padding along among roots and stobs in shade,
I take the north-slope path to see old friends:
red huckleberry and mountain hemlock

subsisting on nurse logs amid moss; vanilla
leaf, false Solomon's seal, sword fern, bracken,
sorrel, twinflower, wild ginger, salmonberry,

maiden-hair fern, ninebark, viney maple.
They seem well; it's steep shade and deep
mouldering duff. Enough rain has alighted

upon this slope for centuries to build tall firs,
straight cedars, twisted, hoary, wrangling maples.
Yet the riverbed below seems troubled, shrunken.

Stones I never see have suddenly shown
themselves, shouldering past dried caddis cases
and empty snail shells, standing in dessicated air.

Here no trout hide from tiring current,
awaiting mayflies. No osprey hovers above,
awaiting trout. The river has shifted from

its bed, lifted past every thirst, and gone
to fall somewhere in the world as flood.
A slug has blundered into dust in broiling

sun and is in trouble. Not one for caressing
slugs, I break two twigs for chopsticks, and move
the mollusk to, I hope, a better place.

In fellow feeling I expound to the slug
my sunstruck orchard, panting flock,
failing well and kitchen garden hard as ice.

We'll all of us start shifting soon, I tell it,
as ants shift from a burning glass. From here on
you and I will need what's more than luck.

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