I sit on 1500 years snagged
by its collective weight, by the downward pull
of this valley, and the simple force of water
when it meets snowmelt and rain.
How long these logs will stay is anyone’s guess.
Stoneflies have hatched in this place of rest,
time-tempered, bent and slowed by the sound
of creek bumping against pushed up gravel,
the change of structure while bending,
the plummeting of water slackened, guided
and gilded by slivers of light etched
with hemlock needles and fir boughs,
with a shadow-show of alder cones reformed
into a pool of the coldest clarity.
If you pick up part of this river,
turn over a stone, you’ll find its connected
to everything else—pupa caddis and cutthroat,
sculpin and rough-skinned newt. The very trees
whose crowns rise higher than I can see: some
who will come crashing down in hundred-year
floods; others—who after feeding pileateds
and beetles, along with the mouths of so many
we cannot even begin to speak their names—
will lie down across these waters
to form river-pastures.
Todd Davis teaches creative writing, American literature, and environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College. He is the author of collections of poetry including Winterkill, In the Kingdom of the Ditch, and Ripe. His poetry has been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor, on The Writer’s Almanac, and by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry. His poems have won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editor’s Prize, and have been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize.