by Luci Shaw
Between generous fields of ripe cranberries and
the gleam of corn stubble we drive toward the base of
Sumas Mountain, a stutter of gravel under the tires.
Roadside, the vine maples’ copper glistens,
and by the bright brink of the road, Old Man’s Beard
tangles with the peach and purple blackberry leaves.
Here, there, a grove of mighty oaks grab at the sky.
We stop and start and stop again on the dirt track beside trees
in full bronze leaf—like wings lifting in a sturdy wind—
my lens reaching from the car window to capture color
for the gray winter ahead. A sudden stutter, as a squadron
of spindrift blasts the windshield–the trees’ un-leaving
echoing the ache of spent foliage, of our own leaf loss.
How the foothills leap and slope, lift and lower their
wooded shoulders dipping, dingle and dell! And how
the humble, ancient farms and collapsing barns nestle in
the gullies, settle into the grooves of their long remembering.
We admire apple trees whose boughs bend under
the weight of their rosy yield. Below them, the ground
simmers with bruised fruit. The ancient trees are left
standing for their slow sift into the soil of centuries,
their fruiting in old age a challenge for our own continuance.
Behind a split rail fence a white horse nickers.
A camera’s click, click, and another click, and more
on the way home across the wide, alluvial flatlands.
Luci Shaw is a poet and essayist, and since 1986 she has been Writer in Residence at Regent College, Vancouver. Author of over thirty-eight books of poetry and creative non-fiction, her writing has appeared in numerous literary and religious journals and in 2013 she received the 10thannual Denise Levertov Award for Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. Her new collection, The Generosity, was released in August, 2020, by Paraclete Press. For further info: wwwlucishaw.com