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On my snowshoes I crunch
over an icy crust from clump 
to clump of dwarf evergreens, 
seeking shelter from wind blown 
wraiths.  I find a spot, and huddle 
here awhile, Tahoe blue below, 
Mount Rose at my back. 

As I sit on this rock wondering 
just how far I’d have to go,
to escape what I’ve dragged
up here with me, what I seem
to drag everywhere without end,
I see it—beyond this last stand
of crooked pines, a lone tree 
protruding from the snow.  Two 
feet high, and already bent like a 
U-turn away from the sunlight.
It’ll never grow straight, but it’ll grow.  
You could transplant it, maybe.
Carry it down the mountain,
place it in rich, dark soil and 
bind it to stakes, direct its path.

But the tension, the memory  
within that twist of grain
would always tug at the rope,
wanting to bend. In a mere 
tree, we don’t call this will,
or choice. That’s a privilege 
reserved for ourselves—
lucky sons of bitches we are.

 


Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada. He writes free verse poetry, and has been published in The Blue Nib, The American Journal of Poetry, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, and others. His first poetry collection, “Ordinary Trauma,” (2019) was published by Alien Buddha Press.

© 2020, Brian Rihlmann

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