Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol. 21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

Spring Inventory in a Wood Near Lund

The paraffin of bluebells.

The wood, a silent
stove, lit from within.

My father’s wood.

His small registry
of delights. All afternoon

the ants spelling their figures
over the needled floor

like hieroglyphs

And like my father, I’ve stood
ankle deep in the brackish
tank of these ferns.

Stretched out in the private
flatbed of my thinking

and studied the circuitry
of alder leaf, branch

its tidal

Sensed in nearby ponds
pikes engage
the trembling arsenal
of their bodies

as I’ve felt my own skin
quicken to its

an inland gull
the pitched cries
of a child, sky
its darkening cradle.

Each spring
I’ve watched my father
walk deeper
into this wood,

into its untamed

year after year, sleeved
in the clotted weather
of its rooms,

the air’s inscrutable

Now this abacus
of stones
turning in my hand
is all I have,

this common
of trees.

Even so rooks
in the attics
go on delivering
the dark river
of their songs,

between then and now

all of it spooling
into the evening’s

syncopated cavities.

It is late. The wood
a drifting cluster
of inflections

trembling in our blood

as ants decipher
their paths
along the forest floor

lifting their luggage
once more into the cellars
this earth becomes,

the moon a shilling
at the leaf’s green sill

each blade
our porous

It is late. The air
another form
of currency.

The bluebells too, a fuel
we know ourselves by

as small as it is, and brief,

mite, wood tic, continuing
their odysseys
through the cemeteries

of branch rot, clay

the rich kiln,
its lit vocabulary.

Let us speak in this accent
of alder, gull, ant, soil.

Now that you are gone

these words
are all I have.  

return to top