Produced by Dennis Camire
This week’s poem is by former Portland Poet Laureate Bruce Spang. His most recent book is “Boy at the Screen Door.”
By Bruce Spang
I walked up a mountain trail in April.
Along the way, strewn here and there,
Broken branches, some stabbing the cool wet earth,
Some cracked, their limbs sundered, like a man
Who’d fallen from a great height,
His legs and arms crushed under him,
And some whole trees, their roots deracinated,
Block the way. The high winds on these slopes
And the weighty snow, slam them
Back to earth. I pick up a few branches,
Crack them on my knee and toss
Them aside. Under them tiny buds
Of violets, strewn in a patchwork
Pattern along the path, seem out of place
This deep in the woods. There’s also
A cluster of Solomon seal, thin white
And green sleeves opening alongside
Phlox, pink and blue, that seem suspect.
Maybe it’s the long walk here among
The brokenness that brings my brother to mind.
Months now, nearly six, since he died,
Telling me, “I couldn’t have done it without you,”
Letting me know I found the right words to say
To help him accept his falling away, his body slack.
Maybe it was seeing how the noble heights
Of these pines and oak are brought low,
And, as if unable to contain their solitary loss,
Take with them whole swatches of understory,
Slashing and stripping them of limbs.
Maybe it’s how each spring more of the top
Growth gives way in the canopy to let more light
Through for the understory, is how I knew
To tell him, when life’s at an end, it’s best
To let it go and attend to what’s coming,
No matter its length, how finally what’s left
Is to clear the path and pass on.
Dennis Camire can be reached at [email protected]