In his sketchbook, ridgelines define a body shaped by tributaries
he followed to where light dances on stones lining a shallow creek
where he made love with her on the forest floor in a patch of sunlight,
something out of a dream he once lived, or thought he did
or thinks he still can
just a stretch downstream from the dam
is a line that runs
and longer as it gets technical, regurgitating
facts and figures about a grizzly who fertilizes spruce trees
1600 feet from the stream where she fished; grizzly and salmon
together provide as much as 24% of total nitrogen available to woodlands
surrounding that stream, once upon a time before the time
someone said water flowing to the ocean has no purpose
so they gave the river a job.
Solace is a sonnet that leaps
to the new world that is some version of the old world she imagines;
his words, a moment’s
escape from the world in which she lives; the starvation of which
her silence defends. The sound of salmon
banging their heads on a concrete wall, a whale
unable to hear her lover among oil rigs screaming; she, 1of 80
Southern Resident orcas, 1 of 7 less than their number a decade ago
when endangerment was penned. Residents depend on Chinook.
Hunger, the determining variable among a swath of insults threatening
orca’s survival. The loss of Rhapsody,
she, the embodiment of joy in an orca who died last summer at 18 years
with a dead child in her womb;
Rhapsody’s death a grief among her kin akin to grief for the 28 year old
woman in Colorado and the daughter
cut from her belly near term, contrast to
the estranged grief of the desperate woman who severed them.
Excuse the poem for not being pretty; the poet for being stern.
All is not well in the house of cards
capped by a lonely stretch of sea filled with rubber ducks, floating
on a not-so-soothing tepid salt water bath
spiked with caesium-137; the child washed ashore
that two others could find one another, all along living the same story
Numerals are used in my poems to call out the strangeness of determining an appropriate response to loss based on numbers.