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The Tree Felled, The Tree Raised

Brett Foster

When you worked as a forester once, once
another who worked alongside you lost
a hand, and it fell to you—the one
who had to “tie it up.” Perhaps that’s why
Washington’s wilderness rarely fills your poetry.
Discretion’s chainsaw clear-cuts what is most costly.

Then Leslie weighed in with her sweet expertise
on how a logger’s life ought not be idealized,
and how even the saw allows for the trees
it’s just about to bring down, eliminated
from Alaskan landscape. This koan is like bait:
hooked, I contemplate destruction’s subtle sizes.

The changes and chances of this mortal life
are cries to call the soul back home again.
At least I like the way that sounds, even if
the little tree house of the body is all
we really know, wounds and pine knots, as squalls
pound the limbs in which the bare, beamed room is contained.

Yesterday a friend’s mother paid a visit
to our church, and by the creed we developed
a partnership: bulletin between our heads.
For her, it was possibly (why pretend?)
a way forward, readying for the end.
“Begotten,” as I heard her say, “and not made up.”

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