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Today I mourn


70 years

ring by ring

grasping at river rock 

Breaking through the impenetrable remains of the Missoula flood

All the while

reaching up to the sky

As if in victory

Never belying the struggle below


More whole than I will ever be

in and of and towering over the earth

Lovingly celebrating

Or at least tolerating in regal composure

our climbing touching hanging pulling picking

Cats and kids and ropes and swings


And bearing fruit

And giving shade

It is the shade I will miss the most


And the beauty

I will miss that too

Sitting, standing staring

Neck bent to aching but unable to look down

endless changing songs for my eyes 

melody of leaf and branch and wind

backbeat of sun and cloud and sky


Gone now is your canopy 

Your crown containing worlds

Worlds I could not reach

Worlds I will never know

You are too tall


too tall


And now your reign

has been reduced to a pile of logs

Cord wood

In remembrance I will make a table

But surely your shelter and beauty

Your oxygen and grace

Deserve more


White snow blossomed every spring

a delight and somehow, always a surprise

As if we didn't know the buds would come again

We too preoccupied to remember that spring always comes

Too concerned with computers and carpools

To know for sure what day the flowers always come

But they came

And all the while the crows calling too loudly 

from your heights


The raccoons, too

And squirrels

And bees

flickers, jays and waxwings, 

Now where will they live


70 years ago someone built a house

Upon this ancient flood plain

In the wake of a burst ice dam

On the wreckage left behind 


Geology warps time

In ways human minds cannot fathom

Even tree minds cannot

But they are more intimate than me with the

Stones carried by the ancient torrent

seeking the water that lies between


Hubris cares little for geologic reality

We make and build

And yet there was at least



To plant a tree


Was it the pit from a sweet afternoon treat

Set carefully with love into the rocky ground

Or was it the haphazardness of crows

And not man at all


Eventually, there was tending



A dream that one day there would be fruit

And shade


I only tended for a decade

With dreams of tree houses

And meditation havens floating above the ground

Sitting like a mountain

Watching the volcanos

Pining for Loo Wit


Before me there were others

What tree dreams did they have

Countless others

I wonder what befell the Cowlitz, the Clackamas

In order for me to be here mourning





How small this is

Compared to all the loss

all the trees

the forests



It is a wonder anything grows at all

Given the tear saturated soil

Yet photosynthesis carries on

and there must be, too, some kind of 

Inexplicable magic


It is the only way I can reconcile

The beauty and the horror

Of being alive on this land



sweet, tart cherries fell 

Every year

Without my doing anything

Inexplicable magic



fruit for me and my children

We were not deserving

But we were thankful


My gratitude now has been transformed by

Chainsaws and stump grinders

Into grief


And all I can do is plant again. 



—Josh Nusbaum, August 10, 2020