Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the murder

Everything’s ruined
torn by careless feet, ground
into new earth, rich wet soil

The wolves have eaten the heart of the forest
to keep it safe, while their sisters
the coyotes danced in celebration

A great black spruce, thick, slender
cast her arms out, umbelliferous
her circle of influence filled with footprints

When the saws came, they destroyed
the shelter she had created, tearing resinous flesh
for the fools couldn’t see that she is a mother

Birth happened in her boughs, and death
of so many small creatures; her seeds were manna,
her embrace taught survival

the land won’t forget what happened here
for the stories are written indelibly in the patterns
of the grouse’s tail, in the whiskers of the fox

Rachel Westfall
January 20, 2009

A sister poem: The Woods

An attempt to make a difference, by some small people with very big hearts: Help Save Takhini Woods


christopher said...

Rachel, this is so good. I so completely agree. I know that it is not the whole story. My heart cares. I grieve the rest but must stand here by my heart. Save the mother and her children.

But here is the rest, worth grieving. It's the story, all too common, here in Oregon where most logging has ended. There are whole towns that were built around lumber and wood products that are failing like the gold and silver towns did. Necessary, but the pain of the transition is real, and not everyone makes it.

I Was A Timber Faller

Me. My daddy. Yes.
His daddy before his time.
We were all fallers.

To be out in the far woods,
No roads but the ones we made,
To stand upright, work so hard,
To feed our kids and women,
Righteous and true clean and good.
I am God Fearing, and now,
They've stopped me, kept me from that,
From all I really wanted.

I can't find real work.
They don't help. I don't want what
They have anyway.
My woman hates me now.
I drink far too much, too much,
My kids going wrong,
The worker says it'll
Come out right, but when? Oh God,
It was good, me too.

I was good back then.

RachelW said...

Christopher, your story, too, is a sad and true one. I grew up in logging country, and I saw a lot of what you are talking about in this poem. It's not pretty, watching a town die around you.

I use wood. I live in a wood-frame house, where I have put in wood floors, and I have a woodstove. I love to build things out of wood. I love the smell and feel of the stuff.

But I wish we could get the wood we need without clear-cutting; without taking out the heart-trees that you can feel are special when you walk into the forest, the ones that keep the forest alive.

The tree in my poem isn't being logged. She's being removed, along with the vast majority of her neighbours, to make way for houses and roads.

Someone seems to think we don't have enough houses around here, but we have plenty of trees. "The trees are small here anyway", a certain high-profile elected official reportedly said when another resident dared to speak up about it.

Poetikat said...

I've never heard that word, "umbelliferous". It's great to hear a word you've never heard before. (I looked it up, naturally - I shall never again see a carrot without saying that word.)
Both of these poems are stunning. Coming from a suburban life in Ontario, I haven't witnessed any of this, but I've seen it in the news and read about it. I'm with you, Rachel. I think reclaimed wood is fine, but slaughtering trees to build houses or even for logging is a real shame.


RachelW said...

That botany education has come in handy after all! Haha! There are so many neat words in the plant world. :) Thanks, Kat!