Friday, 23 of February of 2018

Karen Coulter – Encircled

Karen is long-time defender of the forests of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon. Earlier this year she was on tour with the Earth First! Speakers Bureau where she read all poetry with her power point presentation.



All day trudging in skeleton forests
bare dead branches reaching in mute appeal,
stumps like litter strewn across the ground
then the crossed debris along the creek opens
revealing open sunny meadows to her
flanked by towering fir and spruce
blue green sweeping down majestic
to meet solid column trunks

Entering, she delights in deep shadow dappled with light,
the poignant green arches of yew
with tubular orange illusion berries,
great scrapings of bear claws
that ripped hard yellow wood from a new snag,
glossy low leaves of twinflower stretching.

Then she sees the new blue plastic flagging–
“They must be planning to cut out
the small dense thickets up there,”
she thinks, but follows
for the reassurance of a circle leading away,
a circle she could just push further off–
but the flagging closes in,
following her as she circles her haven–

mind starts racing, panting, as a deer
seeking escape, leaping frantic,
faster than her heavy legs–
“I am a short-legged low-slung animal”
“tired from evading human traps”
“I cannot leave–I need
the quiet shadow,
moss-shrouded old trees
bog orchid, nodding white and pink twinflowers.”

The animal stops following the flagging,
swerves back to center,
sun warming her face
as she returns to the meadow.
Watching the clouds
orange butterflies twirling
she snarls at fear softly
“I am wolverine.”
“I will fight.”

Karen Coulter

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