Shell Rock Lake

The yellowjackets congregate around
singing some bright, fevered chorale
of ins and outs, ups, overs, and aways,
streaming their hoarse longing
through the skyscraper trees.
This barren, swept, human-carved spot
is danced over and tended by these beings
bringing their wild, pressing choir
to this echoing, cathedral space.

The trees of this place, mostly cedars and firs,
lifting up out of the soil with arms outstretched,
like ballerinas at the final bow,
fingertips lifted skyward,
unspeakably long and straight and true.
But who wouldn’t take a bow at such a great feat —
thriving for years upon years
with your vast tender toes and legs
flooded and packed solid down
in a soothing burial of dirt and duff?

And then the sun, pressing its long, slow hand
across the face of the land,
holding the trees and blueberries and alder and bear grass
still for such brief moments —
you can lose them if you aren’t just as slow,
just as caressing with your eyes
as the sun’s bright, loving touch.

And next to, nearby, holding the space
with her dynamic olive-teal-mud-gold waters,
Shell Rock Lake, a maiden
holding aloft masses of bouquets
of blueberry, spirea, and slide alder at her fringes,
her cool, deep waters, calm,
facing the quiet of the day.

–Shell Rock Lake, Roaring River Wilderness, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

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