You stand in the brook, mud smearing your forearms, a bloodied mosquito on your brow, your yellow T-shirt dampened to your chest as the current flees between your legs, amber, verdigris, unraveling today’s story, last night's travail . . . You stare at the father beaver, eye to eye, but he outstares you—you who trespass in his world, who have, however unwilling, yanked out his fort, stick by tooth-gnarled, mud-clabbered stick, though you whistle vespers to the wood thrush and trace flame-flicker in the grain of yellow birch. Death outpaces us. Upended roots of fallen trees still cling to moss-furred granite. Lichen smolders on wood-rot, fungus trails in wisps. I wanted a day with cracks, to let the godlight in. The forest is always a nocturne, but it gleams, the birch tree tosses its change from palm to palm, and we who unmake are ourselves unmade if we know, if only we know how to give ourselves in this untendered light.
Crickets are stitching the afternoon
together. What the squalling catbird rends,
crickets relentlessly repair. The maple shivers,
sends yellowed messages sailing down.
Too much has ripped: half the main branch cracked off
and hangs, teetering, across lower boughs
leaving, on the trunk, a blond wound.
We cross the brook on stepping stones and climb
west up the mountain flank through laurel thickets,
along the scooped-out valley of beeches, up
the stream bed to sit on a fallen tree. But there’s
no rest. We carry with us what we left
below—a country clawing its very idea
to shreds. The scarlet boletus mushroom
prongs from decaying wood. In its bishop’s
amaranth skull cap, it stands its ground. One kind
will nourish; the other sickens. But not,
like the white amanita, bringing on
liver failure, seizures, death.