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White Pine

All day clearing and stacking the woodpile.

Dragging the cold limbs. Packing the wedge

in the fault-lines and sap knots. Bringing

the sledge-hammer down. No job now. Alone

with the poplars and bald eagles drifting.

Living on savings and generous help from

the old couple further up shore. Sundays they

drive me to town to get groceries, sit for

the church service, make a few calls to my

friends. When the sun gets low on the pine trees

behind me, I walk down the deer-trail tracks

to the shore. Nothing but empty horizons

of white. The wide lake frozen. Mist rising up

from the cedar-tree swamp near the creek.

I walk on the face of it, circling back to the ice-

mounds surrounding the spring. The water

runs red from the iron inside it. Colors

the border-ice orange. Patches of weird moss.

Icicles growing like mutated fingers of rust.

I fill up the milk-gallon jugs at the drainpipe,

stack them in rows on the little wood bridge.

Dry off my fingers. Blow on my bare hands.

The air is so clear I can hear my own voice

coming back from the opposite shore. Two

miles distance. A few little fish-huts and dock

posts emerging from wind-driven furrows

of snow. I lecture to no one. Laugh at the fact

of myself in the silence. The wind dies around me.

The stars start to stab out discernible dots

in the glow. Faintly, the sound of a pileated

woodpecker knocking its head on a limb.

I know he is probably starving, listening hard

to the bugs in the dead wood. I wait for the

moonlight, pick up the milk jugs and follow

my tracks to the warm empty cabin alone.

from Poetry Northwest Spring & Summer 2015More by Kai Carlson-Wee from the library

Copyright © Kai Carlson-Wee, 2015.
Used with the permission of the author on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Published in Kai Carlson-Wee Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.