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Past the smokestacks looming on the river and the rivers
of restless rush hour traffic, I drove north
to where the roads were unmapped and the trees
did not line up in rows one after the other.
I went to get away and to forget, but as it turned out
I broke a sweat splitting and stacking logs
behind the cabin, and like flickering street lamps
the upturned leaves droned and what is the sound
of cars and trucks churning uninterrupted down
an interstate if not that of a stream in the woods?
For hours on end I watched ants in their lines
of work and stared at grass twitch.
Bit by bit, I grew tired of the world as it was there
doing everything and nothing all at once
and so decided on a drive around the lake
but backing up, distracted, the radio
Interrupting the clamor of cicadas
with rumors of a truce
and the murders preceding it,
I whacked the rear bumper into a sapling,
nearly crushing it. I stepped around the tree,
only knee-high, and ran my thumb along its limbs,
carefully, as if the slightest touch
would cause it to fall apart.
“What misery to be afraid of death.
What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.”
I looked up and the trees spoke. Look here, they said.
We will outlast you all.We belong here more than you.