Cascade Valley ~ Sarah M. Wells

Look, my daughter, the pine tree

dropped its seeds, and here

a fragile sapling braves the forest floor.

This used to be a birch tree

but lightning sliced it, wind heaved

its heavy breath and now

the trunk is rust. Sticks once flared

skirts of springtime buds,

but now we throw the broken limbs

into rushing floodwaters

to see how quickly we could be carried

away. Always a hair too close

to the edge, pebbles skitter

into the river. Let’s find our way

back from this spring rage, out of the valley

that catches what used to cling

above. Climb this mountain

with its tread marks, hoof prints,

decomposing oaks—we are not the first

to grow and fall. But see the way

the leaves return to earth, the way the dust

collects. Crocus blades emerge

from crumbling stumps as if this growth

does not take more than soil,

light, and rain. Reach down, my child,

bring a pine cone home to show

how miraculously we are carried.