– 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,

interstellar space.

 

This half the forest is less ours,

even, than the day’s. We barely know

its possibilities,

 

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.