Attempting to speak


of forests


I bump up

– again and again —

against the close

and closed edges


of my mind — this cage

of attitudes that limits

the forest, by turns,


to young and awkward,

or elegant with age.


Two friends meet cancer

nightly in the cradle of their hips.


These forests – beneficent.

Their tumors – malignant.

Each with no such intent


but relentless, yes,

in their endless

bifurcation and cellular


splitting – by daylight,

by starlight,

and in the shade of bellies.

Bill Yake now living among the fir and redcedar forests bordering the Salish Sea, was born, raised, and first educated, where eastern Washington pine forests grade into the remnant black hawthorn swales and eyebrows of the Palouse Hills. His poems have been published in books, magazines, and anthologies serving the environmental and literary communities — from Orion to Wilderness Magazine, from Poetry to Open Spaces Quarterly, from Wild Earth to ISLE. They have also been featured on NPR programs, including Krulwich Wonders, and are collected in This Old Riddle: Cormorants and Rain and Unfurl, Kite, and Veer, both from Radiolarian Press.