Horn of Plenty / Trumpet de Mort
…(from the top it looks like a hole in the ground)…like black or brown petunias…
—David Arora, Mushrooms Demystified
Want me to cull black flowers from an
Understory, or memory, or even worlds Rilke insisted burble
Inside us, ask me to walk fringes
Where oaks relent to meadow, cat’s ear & starflower, cones
Or bells, & I will wholeheartedly fail you.
Rains have yet to come & specific colds. I can show you only
Shades under long branches to turn
Over, & over—one is a finality. Look, I have no delicacy.
I stumble the leaf litter of my country
Guessing, sometimes drunk, searching grass beneath my feet
For what appears, from above, to be
Holes in the ground. Black is indubitably not a crow. Black is
A crow in winter when all other animals
Have left the meadow. Black is not a whole note, nor is it
A horn. It is a center, where the
Music’s coming from. So close, so powerful, like origins, how
Can I pick it? Listen, tell my mom & dad
I’m not gone. I climbed inside the rich canyon of my failures
To ask what is black, blooming?
Sobering voids about a sphere, between the stars? Where rock
People drew contours of their signposts?
The early horoscope unfurling like signal fires of tire smoke . . .
Book of the Great Blue Heron
Chapter 1 – Fall
I left the trail where hooves & paws trampled down a way to water.
Chapter 2 – Winter
The southern wall plunged behind it. Outcrops rise from rock piles channel winds erode, not at the moment. Shocks of alder relent to kingdoms of Douglas fir. They stand & shrink away, migrated. A finer line of snow, which might be chests deep. The perfect wedge of ice.
The northern wall plunged behind me. Outcrops rise from rock piles channel winds erode, not at the moment. Shocks of alder relent to kingdoms of Douglas fir. They stand & shrink away, migrated. A finer line of snow, which might be chests deep. The perfect wedge of ice.
Chapter 3 – Spring
No rock will fault or boulder cleft or limbs array the same. Snowflakes melt on fingertips.
Here the river yawns & broadens.
It teems with quicksilver, shards of lightning come to rest after the storm.
Chapter 4 – Question
Bear comes thrashing down
The canyon. Heron doesn’t
Chapter 5 – Summer
It lands where the next rapid begins, on a rock like an upside down saucer, in two whopping strokes, as on infinity pools those seams which water seems to constantly approach & fall away from, leveling forever, not an arbiter, without a message or a rumor, without a whisper, without the tongue it doesn’t need to fish & deliver them with saying.
There's Nothing In Particular
about the road, or about the rock slide that devastates it,
Or the flagger planted on its soft shoulder holding
A sign listing in the pivot of her palm from stop to slow,
Stop to slow like a pinwheel because the obstruction
Itself is glaringly obvious, & there’s nothing in particular
About the obvious, about things that go without saying
We can't be sure have gone without saying, which
Is why she tilts her head, weighing the situation of me having
Arrived, & approaches my window in a minute act
Of acceptance cultivated over her lifetime of learning
The hard way just to say it, that the wait, now, is indefinite,
& there's nothing in particular in it, either, the wait,
An idling truck, stands of ponderosa pine baking in July,
A broken radio inexplicably reestablishing whatever
Arc or connection deteriorated inside its solder, completing
Some circuit, relaying a somber violin-piano concerto
On 90.1 that for a time has no known composer or title
& drowns out shoulda shoulda shouldas of rockhammers
Busting rubble into smaller piles of movable rubble
Not by its volume, but in its sound rendering of somber-ness
Too, Merit, Virtue, great nothings that cause you to look
Left & notice wind laced & laid naked with dust
That causes each withered blade & stem & leaf to bow
Easterly, or westerly, like the muezzin calling to Mecca, like
Tide water to revolutions of moon, & causes her
To part her lips, sigh, & fish from her reflective vest
A loose cigarette & book of matches that, if struck carelessly
Here, will change this box canyon to flame, even
The woman, even the man, even the rocks & warnings
Posted mile after mile after mile fire season has begun, even
The mile, even the even even, even the even even even.
ERIC GREENWELL is the recipient of Writing in the Wild and Centrum Writers’ Conference fellowships, Eric Greenwell is the 2016 PEN/Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident. His work has appeared in Rattle, Willow Springs, Lake Effect, Terrain.org and is forthcoming in Boston Review. He lives with his partner, Belinda, on a homestead in the remote Rogue Wilderness of Southern Oregon.