Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


 by Richard Hartwell

Nestled deep within a green-firred, feathered bed,
Rings of verdant pines once encircled my Coquille,
All the family members now have been logged-off,
One by one from mountain slopes now logged bare.
There is no more a stand of stair-stepped timber there,
Bewitching, blooded; random seeds sown broadcast.

Roxie was the first to go, bone-rotted to the marrow,
Too weak to stand alone; gaunt, bent, and twisted,
Leaned against and layered on a younger generation;
Wire-sized and once-tough sinews boxed up neatly,
This ancient snag was replanted in hallowed ground,
Deeply consecrated, shady, but too sterile to harvest.

Walt went next, but he rolled off, away years before,
A composite beam, whose strength of layered parts
Belied the knotty weaknesses lying deep within.
Unyielding, he finally snapped at pressure points
When time was up, too sapped to stand up to even
One more randy bout of boozed-up, wild tempest.

When both these mighty spires had been felled,
The matriarch of the family grove emerged in Fran.
There was a time, a brief, resurgent, girlhood glow,
As within a meadow culled opened to the sun when
Radical new growth appears and prospers uncontrolled,
When legends expand with retelling and myths are born.

So it was with Fran and for a while her tasseled
Branches sprouted much new growth, attracting
Others to join and renew her spreading freedom.
Since she was young and lost in her own woe,
She could not change the direction of her core,
She perished all alone, strangled by suffocation.

With these three giants gone the grove cleared,
Second-growth timber mixed with underbrush,
Accumulated until applied to many other uses:
Bridging gaps, helping others, bearing weight.
Most logs mouldered that fell near the stump,
Failing to make the skinner’s cull and chute.

Much bent and weakened by that earlier reliance,
It took years to measure his crooked growth before
Royal left, himself rootless too, dangling, dead.
Two more have fallen inwards upon themselves,
Decayed by drugs, stagnated by the mushrooms,
One more mislaid and another in jail still thinking.

Of the five who “got away,” one hangs on alone,
While four traveled afar to escape their heritage.
There is a hierarchy to their occasional conversations,
Each does not whisper to all nor all to any one; only
This one brushes that one, who touches yet another.
By their collective silences, the forest now stands still.

Another family barren, like the hills above Coquille.

No comments:

Post a Comment