Where trees used to be
Those hills are bare because we were hungry,
daughters reliant on the saws of our fathers,
and now we are women who will not ask
forgiveness for the love we need. A man, a man,
another man — Darling, the soil erodes
as each falls. With nothing to stop them,
loose lashes sluice down cheeks
in rivers of black mascara.
Inspired by Deb’s Tangential fringe (I wish I had used “fringe” because I love it so much; maybe we need to write fringe poems, ladies!). Where I started to go with this was a poem about the three of us (somewhat). We have lots in common, and Deb’s poem made me think about it. All three of our fathers had a hand in cutting trees: Deb’s as a logger in Arizona, Jill’s in a paper mill in the Adirondacks, mine in a paper mill in Northern Maine. All three of us — I hope I’m not speaking out of turn — have been hungry for the right love, though I suppose that’s not unique to us. Anyway, I intended to keep going with the parallels but I stopped. Or more precisely, my energy stopped. I don’t know if this is how it ends or if this is stanza 1. I do know it’s bed time here on the East Coast, and I’m going to try to put my head on my pillow with some gratitude for this stump of a poem.
The Disguise of Mascaraed Lashes
Midnight fog isn’t a surprise
it’s the veil of noon wakes you,
scarves shimmy behind the hidden
mirror of some Salome dance,
limbs uncovered on a forest
edge, fringe on a rim to disguise
the clearcut just beyond view.
The silhouettes are perfectly imperfect–
negative space outlining a skeleton
of place. You’ve seen it too:
Highway 6 on the way to Tillamook,
past signs of replanting and PR
plaques explaining the corn-rowed
beautiful rehabilitation, a splint.
Or flying in January leaving
sifting contrails to fuel a family
of regret. Snow patches checker
the mountainsides like a crazy
quilt. Making pretty what is clear–
wide open spaces range the edge
of visibility, light through this screen
is a work of hubris & imagination.
/ / /
This started as a response to Carolee’s list, which was a pairings of words from another poem. I took her list and offset it so as to form new pairings, and started writing a poem, which moved me into another poem (somewhere in stanza one, once the words reminded me of something I have been wanting to write about for a long long while: clearcut forests & the disingenuous fringe of trees left at highway edges.
My dad was a logger in Arizona and they select cut. I don’t understand, with all the science & technology that says clear-cutting is bad, why they still do it in the Pacific Northwest. I imagine it’s because loggers here own more bulldozers than skidders. But I don’t know.