*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,
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 www.dereksheffield.com, or Terrain.Org