From Issue 19: "A Response to a Pair of Forest Plots" Derek Sheffield (Poetry)

As I first read Derek Sheffield's poem, I could see in my mind's eye exactly the type of forest management it describes. For me, this work encapsulates everything about this important environmental issue in its form and details, while also opening the idea of what might be a better way forward for the planet we all share.

Let us know your thoughts by posting over at our Facebook page, or reaching out to us on Twitter. And as always, thanks for reading!

Mare Heron Hake

Poetry Editor


*Editor's note: As fires continue to rage around the country, I chose this poem to excerpt from Issue #19 before Tahoma Literary Review's official publication date, upcoming this November. 




A Response to a Pair of Forest Plots


By Derek Sheffield



is my assignment. But all the firs

in the first that was clear-cut and

replanted huddle thick together

exactly alike, exactly where twenty

years ago each was boot-stamped

to grow into this big dark box.


And while the second was thinned

then—less crowded with intent, a little light

spilling through—I can’t help

but see every sizable tree still grows

right where someone

shook a rattle can and sprayed.


Something else entirely

here in the roadside ditch

                                                in blue ruffled dabs

                        among the untidy


irises, where I kneel

                        to better see

                                    white starbursts veined

with lines thin as moth legs    

                                    upon the splayed sepals—

and feel                                                            the slight space

            held by the petals

                                                that curl up and in like

tongues toward one other,


           without touching,

                                                and hold.



reprinted with the permission of the poet

Derek Sheffield had this to say about his work:

This poem was in response to beautiful wilds I have been fortunate enough to be in the presence of. In this case, by being a visiting writer at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon, courtesy of the Spring Creek Project.

Additionally, Mr. Sheffield provided a painful update a few weeks later:

These two poems were born near Blue River, OR, in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. In the time since their acceptance, the town of Blue River has burned to the ground and the Holiday Farm Fire is still burning at the hem of the H.J. Those elder beings I came to know, trees alive since Shakespeare was alive and writing, remain in peril.

Derek Sheffield is Poetry Editor of Terrain.Org. He lives with his family in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains near Leavenworth, Washington, where he likes to bird, hike, botanize, fish, and forest bathe. More information about his work can be found at, or Terrain.Org