Claire Keyes
Wood, Paper, Poems

You promised me a pretty lake
if we chose this path sprinkled with wildflowers:
flagrant reds, champion blues, but how subtle
was Allied Lumber with its backhoes
running giant claws across the mountain,
leaving behind this tangled slash
of branches, twigs and stumps?

A scavenger with a chain-saw and a pick-up
works at the slash, reducing it to chunks
he can burn or sell. He gives us a nod as we pass
in our sturdy boots, their thick rubber treads.
I'm reminded of the pilgrim in the hallowed book
snapping a twig from the tree, falling back
when the tree speaks:

Why do you break me?
Have you no pity then?

I say,
and there's more slash ahead.
I don't want to see it, want to turn back to camp.
Only you won't let me. After the clear-cut,
a stupendous view, a panorama.
Where do you think wood comes from
anyway? Wood, paper, poems?