– for the creatures of old growth
Half the forest is night. Inaudible.
Yet for the adapted & adept, starlight
and skritches must suffice.
And listening near truffle-flesh, night-lives
hear the faint, faint gnawing of subterranean
voles, the squirrel that glides in,
scurries upward, then glides again. Each life
a risk. The owl’s beak breaks into large, dark
minds. Squirrels’incisors break
into the thrush’s equal eggs. Under the long
rains moss and lichens swell. Half
the forest is now water.
Warm-blooded lives retreat: bats tuck
beneath slabs of bark; gliders go back
to moss-packed nests.
The rain-full air sweeps between monumental
fir boles, not half so dark nor half so silent
as that nest of moss
where a dozen gliders warm their blood,
their huge eyes dark as star-globes,
This half the forest is less ours,
even, than the day’s. We barely know
our own, our dreams.
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.