>shot of sixty years


Sunday Stills posts a prompt each week for photography. This Sunday the call is for history — anything sixty or more years old. Last Sunday right before the tornado hit, we were running the pups along the river when we came across this fallen cottonwood. Bark and limbs are long gone but not the carved pledge. I’m sure it was meant to last forever — the pledge and the carving. This reminded me of a poem  from my cynical years. You’ll find it below this photo. Cynicism or love — which lasts longer than sixty years?

Sometimes Becky Needs a Birch Canoe

I woke today, recalling a poem about Becky–
she maintained endless faith by taking long walks
to remind herself how winter circles
with killing frost, with quiet drifting snow;
that brown bears curl first, then settle
while crows caw over wheat field stubble.

              just as brown bears rise, just as robins nest

She’d break trail through last night’s crust,
slip through barbed wire fenced against the frozen
marsh. Along the bank of Driver’s Creek
she’d search for yet another note from him–
twined and twigged, a knotted braid
of regret and faith, dangling from a blade.

            carve me out another chance on the bark of this white birch

I imagined their tree: criss-crossed with pledges
of their love, but sometimes I’d find myself wanting
to step inside that poem–take that blade
from her naïve hand, ax the tree, build
a canoe and float her down river,
away from him, hoping
she’d come to her senses.

This poem was first published in Prick of the Spindle

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

4 responses to “>shot of sixty years

  1. >Wonderful combination of image and poem.Love the barbed wire fenced against the frozen marsh.Criss-crossed pledges.I love how you champion the flight of Becky into herself.

  2. >Don't we all wish mistakes could be corrected by time and erosion?

  3. >kass-always good to hear when what i am trying to do comes across. criss-crossed pledges, exactly so.rox-see there you go again, showing me your inner poet. you've given me much to consider.

  4. >I like the way you interject Becky's thoughts between the voice of the narrator, in a rhythm and syntax that both characterizes Becky, and helps me visualize her walking. There are two people in this poem, both vivid, through your selection of details, and the narrator's response to them, and you create a convincing world. I love the rhythm in this poem, varied, and flawless in the total effect.

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