Appalachian fall

1.
Black birch roots above the water.
Witch hazel blooming against the rocks.

2.
Above the water: a spring half covered with birch leaves – yellow – & the red and orange of maples.
Against the rocks: boulders as big as you want.
One in particular that hikers circumambulate, patting its elephant-gray sides.

3.
The stream can’t decide whether to flow over or under the ground.
If you put your ear down low, you can hear it trickling through caverns full of salamanders & stolen moonlight.

4.
The birch won’t be here long – no more than a single human lifetime.
Its trunk rests on four columns, two tercet arches above the water.
A winter wren darts from grotto to grotto.
When he pauses to sing, you think, this is how rivers get started.

5.
Rain & fog.
Pale yellow rays of witch hazel against the dark rocks, the moss-backed boulders.
What we notice depends on how often we stop, how well we listen.
You don’t need to know the names of anything, really.

6.
The birch in all likelihood doesn’t care about its reflection.
Witch hazel will scatter its seeds through small explosions; it doesn’t need the birds.
Trees die & fall – or vice versa – but are far from dead.
Wren gleans silverfish & millipede, bark beetle, caddis fly: all small things that scuttle, flutter, flow.

7.
The mountain emerges as a series of rests, an improvised pause.
You climb past the boulders in the rain, humming, a shock of white hair under a dark umbrella.

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