Every green room of the forest planted:
Trillium and quince, alder and salmonberry, …
You could go on, I know—
green room to green room,
names scrolling off your tongue
like bark from madrona trunks.
Snowberry and salal, Douglas fir and elderberry.
Have I told you cedars are my favorites?
I see more rust-colored cedar boughs;
“flagging,” a mutual friend explains.
For me a new meaning.
Things are changing, but this flagging—
natural, this time of year.
Nothing to worry about.
Have I told you I’m feeling my age,
am more prone to cliché?
Natural, this time of life.
Weakness and pain in my right arm
is new to me. Go on. I’ll sit here
and rest, with the old meaning—
in this warming up, drying out rust-colored room.
I’m sorry for harm I’ve caused.
Why do you think I started walking,
breathing in the ragged poison bouquet
of particulates and exhaust?
Here, spiderwebs are mostly intact
and blackberries flourish.
At the tip of my old hiking boot, holey,
a beetle evades my attention, strolls
under a leaf from a trailing blackberry vine,
hides. For me a new beetle;
no name scrolls from my tongue.
I lift the leaf, only to say,
Hi. I haven’t seen you before. You’re safe.
I’m uninterested in causing further harm.
Should I buy new hiking boots? It depends.
Have I told you our time together
has been holy, a benediction?
Go on. There is nothing to fear. Don’t worry.
Know I loved you. Go on.
by Andrew Shattuck McBride
from Empty Mirror