Even in the dampened folds of my handkerchief
the cutting took hold,
its tendrils clinging to the cotton cloth.
My pocket breathed.
Though I left the forest the way I’d come,
things had changed: salmon berries dripped
their pinky-orange beyond the bush;
rhododendrons bloomed so white I had to look away.
My leg brushed a fern,
I recognized the whisper I thought I had
forgotten long ago.
Fir needles sang beneath my feet.
Cedar bark and fungus scent followed me
down the path to home.
I knew mosquitoes watched me leave.
Inside my shirt the cutting moved.
I planted the shoot in a clay pot and left it
in my living room; I shut the door behind me.
After several days I woke to the song of the thrush
and I could hear the ticking
Of flickers’ beaks against the wood. Strange smells
seeped out from under the door. Skunk cabbage and scat.
Little beards of moss were pushing through the keyhole.
I began to hear the rain.
originally published in Explorations,
University of Alaska Southeast
IMAGE: photograph by Christine Hemp
So it’s Labor Day weekend. The swallows’ departure and the arrival of the flying red ants tell us that summer is over. New lunchboxes, a set of Crayolas, and tight shoes replace inner tubes, tree camps, and bicycles. This week’s poem is for all children (young and old) who hate to leave summer behind…