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Collateral Damage

 



Collateral Damage

 

 

Live oak, black oak, madrone and big leaf maple -

suitable only for slash and burn,

vine maple, tanoak, chinquapin, wild grape,

snowberry, blackberry, cottonwood -

by-catch, these lives that count for nothing,

alder, manzanita, honeysuckle, hazelnut,

chanterelle, penstemon, delphinium,

buckwheat, tiger lily, trillium and dogwood -

only road-kill in the maw of industry.

Serpentine meadow - gone before the blade -

her lovely green rock now lines the roads

for semi, dozer and cable.

 

 Only Douglas fir - the chosen one -

will be allowed to grow on this mountain.

Planted in straight, evenly spaced rows,

the genetic memory of forest in their cells,

they will reach to sun and sky for 40 years,

until one blindingly beautiful Indian summer day,

as redtails and vultures ride the thermals overhead,

harvest comes to lay them down like corn.

 

In the deepest hours of night, when sleep eludes,

I try - and fail - to conjure acceptance

of this long death.

Listening at the bedroom window to the night noises,

I imagine the catastrophic displacement -

life overturned, forced eviction for so many.

Scat at the wood’s edge and at the spring

attest to bear and cougar on the move down-slope.

Live or die,

they must make other arrangements for home ground.

 

Behind my closed eyelids that shutter the too-bright moon,

the walk from anger to despair is short.

I fill my pockets with stone and wade into the river -

her darkest tender mercy

will mute the felling of trees.

The current will flow, strong and sure, downstream -

past heron and kingfisher, osprey and otter - 

to spill, at last, into the solace of a vast and salty rest.

And grief - that heaviest pearl -

will sing her homecoming to the sea.

 

 

Barbara Parchim

 

 

Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon that was originally homesteaded in the late 1800’s.  Retired from social work, she volunteered for many years at a wildlife rehabilitation and education facility caring for raptors and wolves.   She enjoys gardening, wilderness hiking and spending time with her dogs.   Her poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Cobra Lily, the Jefferson Journal, Turtle Island Quarterly and Windfall


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3 Comments

  1. very much loved this poem, glad you didn't allow trees to be a central point but rather part of the overall work. it has grace and beauty beyond a mere tree.

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  2. It's a good point I read too many poems with trees as central characters that I have to wonder if the writer was on some type of drug. This is very good work and I am also pleased it ended in a poetic direction.

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  3. You tree haters are becoming collateral damage to good taste and common sense. Smell the art.

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