When we hiked out of the forest at dawn
before the logging trucks,
the stars glittered through spindly giants,
uninterrupted by branches,
whispering birth secrets.
The Kalmiopsis Wilderness
in Southeastern Oregon
burned two years before
in an all-you-can-eat wildfire.
We came later
with signs and evidentiary letters,
appealing to their sense of community, decency, beauty:
Please don’t log the blackened forest, so it can return!
They did not hear us.
So we blocked the roads,
called the news,
cut our wrists on the tight plastic handcuffs,
admired our pictures in the paper.
We returned the next day to repeat our ritual.
There is so much waiting and wondering,
haunted worry and falling down,
fighting and breaking bones
in the death stories.
Then it is time
to move, march, shove, thrust.
There is no why;
the trillium blooms unapologetic,
only a white blossom in trinity
rising to uncoil
a dangerous hope.
The opposite of dying
is pushing green buds
through hard wooden skin
and calling it life,
as if this never happened before.
The opposite of giving up
is standing together
or carrying each other home.
The opposite of despair is Spring.
Even when you think you have nothing left,
your heart betrays you and beats anyway.
Are you dead yet?
No – and there comes a moment
when joy tricks you into a song
and the small bird inside you
springs up through the trees,
burnt and branchless.
You are chirping,
whether or not you believe in sunrise.