like an anchorite behind its boulder, °
treeline pine weathers the winter storms.
knotty branches shrink as nights turn colder.
in its tufts, a fluted snowdrift forms.
summer bares the mossy flanks of bosses
lakes of lupine bloom on alpine meads,
stunted pine regrows its winter losses,
rocks to meet its meager needs.
its boughs the mantled squirrels nibble
tender forage plucked from fields of sedge.
its roots the braids of snowmelt dribble
purling pools from ledge to jointed ledge.
two hikers hunker in its cranny
shelter from the wind-bedeviled sky.
dusk the twisted krummholz looks uncanny,
limbs outstretched as though to prophesy.
tent-stakes deep in prickly humus,
pitch our camp and gather sticks to burn.
resin-scented plumes of smoke perfume us
overhead the Bear and Draco turn. °
embers fade, our tangled limbs keep burning,
blaze no dozing squirrels scent or see
tufted ears might hear us turning, turning.
Crooked love beneath the crooked tree.
= the title means "crooked wood," a term for
stunted trees found near timberline in alpine regions
anchorite = a religious recluse
Bear, Draco = celestial constellations
printed in Chronicles.
by permission of the author.