Assembled Poems

Jenny Root

A Road Called Wilderness

My dad lives in the woods on a road called Wilderness.

He skis through maple, cherry and beech
when the snow is good.

We take off from the cabin, he breaking trail

as he did when I was a kid. The wind is blowing
hard across the fields and we hear the trees creak

and crack overhead. We ski around the fallen.

Dad points to the scarring on the oldest beeches,
a disease new to these woods since my last visit.


Sky a dull grey, ground pure white—we ski
through acres of trees a darker grey to charcoal.
Dozens—the largest—are marked with bright
blue rings, destined to be cut down and sold. One,
a cherry, has three trunks growing from the base.

Flooring, perhaps. Furniture if it’s lucky.

The only other color is a soft, muted yellow, wisps
of last autumn’s leaves cling to saplings,
flutter like moths in the hard breath from the fields.
I learn these saplings are beech, their leaves
an improbable strength.

We ski on through a forest of yellow wings.


Twice he fell and refused my help.

I watched as he struggled to find leverage
against the incline in the trail, against
the deepening snow.


My dad lives in the woods on a road called Wilderness.
I come to visit as often as I can, the woods being

cut or thinned, my dad getting older. We argue
over the pressing issues of the day, as we always have,

with greater understanding now

the resilience of leaves
the fragility of old wood.

Another Wildland Urban Interface


Late summer in the West
a dryness, a thirst

among the nests—
Golden air, flecked

with dust, a hurrying
to harvest—


A rare breeze stirs
a susurring of leaves

a memory of rain, of trees
and shade and green, near

where a couple sit

Here, a group of carts
for shopping where

some expect them

beneath a bridge
beside a motley

of blankets—


A flame flickers
near a face—

acrid smoke drifting there—


Red wheel burns
through fire haze

Somewhere a forest ablaze
again this year

another kind of smoke
another kind of season

a harvest of shelter—
leveling Go Now with

Do you have anywhere you can go?

Lichen and Winter Light

Last day of the year and the sun
splashed fence stands a little
taller wearing lichen
and winter light

The moment would go unnoticed
brief as it is
an ordinary shining
without witness if not

for the gift of a broken
toe time to recover to look
through a window this morning
to rest the eyes on the sage green

lichen eating the fence
living on weathered wood
grey and brittle with age
could you paint it

Crawfish on the Bike Path

i have crawled through muck
grass trash and dogshit to reach
your cement journey your
skateboarders on steroids your
stroller joggers your bicycle ninjas
only to find you staring
at your gods on a screen
i feel their rays like filament line
ensnaring me in death traps
in your dirty river backwash i have come
prostrate before you through no
untoward ambition of my own our few
daylit hours filled with your
cigarette exhale o
the humanity i wave
my claws beneath
your gods’ devious
bait please watch out