SageGreenJournal.org voices out of the West, mostly poetry, personal to planetary...
Tim is a poet, essayist, and nature writer. He is the author of three poetry collections, Pawtracks, In Blue Mountain Dusk, and Ascendance, and ten poetry chapbooks. Tim is also the author of eleven books on natural history, including Olympic National Park: A Natural History, and Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park. Tim has received the Washington State Book Award and the National Outdoor Book Award. He lives in the foothills of Washington's Olympic Mountains.
Tim's website is timmcnultypoet.com
While visiting her girlhood home
my friend Kelly always stops
to help slow-moving box turtles
cross the highway.
So many turtles
in summer, seeking out beetles
or roadkill or whatever.
Most seem intent on crossing roads.
Her partner, Russ, who
tells me this,
complains that the turtles,
overcome with fright,
pee all over her.
keep some raingear
in the trunk, he wonders,
or not be so kind-hearted
toward these poor stranded souls...
But then he thinks again.
Decades now since we bumped north
in the back of a dusty van. Orondo,
Entiat, the small appletowns bunched
along the banks of the slack green waters
of the Columbia,
and the tawny flesh-colored hills beyond them
freckled with sage and creased with arroyos.
We hoped for a few more weeks
of harvest work, but the crop was thin
that year, and the last flatbed loads
of apple bins rumbled past us,
down 97 to the sorting yards at Wenatchee.
By Chelan, we gave it up.
A raw wind chafed over the lake,
and the deepening overcast marked an end
to the blue sunlit harvest days
and brilliant dawns of autumn.
It was late in the day, your birthday,
and we didn’t know
where we would spend the night.
We didn’t know a lot of things then,
but it was this—sharpened by what we both knew
about us and the end of another season—
that left you quiet and hurt.
I can’t remember where we did sleep that night.
I do remember coming home
to the damp cabin and empty woodshed,
and the pain of those last weeks.
But left to its own, memory wanders
beyond that, to the still-green and apple-red
days of harvest, when we’d return
to our pickers’ shack under the trees,
and you’d wash in a white enamel basin.
I remember your beauty as you stood
by the glimmering warmth of the gas burner
brushing leaves from your hair,
and my sadness, as our small window
darkened on the rows of neatly pruned trees
and burnt glow of the sage hills beyond them,
that I’d already lost you.
from Ascendance, Pleasure Boat Studio, 2013
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