It’s early spring. March. Not yet time for Manistee Forest,
everything waterlogged and no hiking boots. Brusque cold,
trees shuddering as they shimmy off death.
I scowl at pines that seem to grow in rows, giants
of old West Michigan, planted to be cut.
I huff in the muck and wish I was Michigan.
Beautiful, in a scrubby, swampy, forest kind of way.
Ancient as the worn-down Porcupines, drowsy as bear fossils
in the dunes, gritty as the crest of a Lake Huron wave.
I won’t need to celebrate what beats behind the waterfall
of my rib cage. I can be the five lakes, curvaceous boulders
at Pictured Rocks, cry of skimmers at the shore, a fist, the embodied knowledge
of ten thousand years of pain.
This is not a love poem. I am categorizing that bit of self
caught in a ditch with two wheels spinning. Come and stomp your boots
at my porch of laughing hyperbole. The A-frame cabin aglow
behind my eyes, armpits smelling of trout,
shoes overflowing with sand and Petoskey stones.
There are three white birches at the cabin near Ellsworth:
one for rebirth, one for tranquility, one for sleep.
Something flowers in me when I see them, liquid gold in my fingertips.
Feeling less like a 175-pound raccoon,
less like dead hornets in a urinal, less like condos stacked upright,
taxidermic soldiers. All I know is concrete,
smoke pouring from a Cadillac on East Grand Boulevard,
weeds growing between cracks in the parking lot of American Axle.
I become a canoe, and I never get splinters. The lake water
cool on my belly. The woods in front
seem like they go on forever and it makes no difference to me.
The fish think I am a very big fish, so they squiggle away
in fear, even those nasty old pike. It’s a nice sweet song
of a life, even when men so rudely sit on me and kill
bluegill in my bow for sport. It’s a nice sweet song.