Balsam firs tower above. Shaded below, the stream
pours over boulders, rocks, downed logs and pebbles.
My poor toes—wading barefoot, gingerly,
cringing, ouch! oooh! ow!
I wish for the callused feet of childhood.
Seeking respite, I perform a balancing feat,
step onto a large, flat-ish rock—aaah—relief—
my soul is eased upon its smoothness,
I scrape my soles along its rounded edges,
to dislodge grit and sand.
Squatting on the moss-covered rock,
my curious finger caresses, releases
organic aromas. My nose presses into the moss.
My spirit knows that by right I should not be here,
yet here I am, and here I write.
Above the grasp of gnarled roots holding the weary world
in place, beneath the weight of tree-exhalations,
shady and humid, I focus my senses and wait.
Green-furred table-stone releases coolness
stored beneath the moon last night beside the stream.
Now sunlight filters down through balsam needles,
creates frayed images on my notebook.
I can almost taste the greenness.
With my ears I see the ethereal, feathered song
of a wood thrush as it cuts through
the sound of rushing water.
A sea of aerial plankton—mayflies or midges
or stoneflies—golden bits drift in a dark river
of balsam-scented air that flows above the stream,
This is our Mother,
this is the hour of her need.
Within her realm, the very stones can fly.
I pledge a whispered word and bow
beneath the blessing arms of balsam boughs.
Poem by Janet Ruth
Janet Ruth is a New Mexico ornithologist. Her writing focuses on connections to the natural world. She has recent poems in Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Ocotillo Review, Sin Fronteras, Spiral Orb, Unlost: Journal of Found Poetry & Art, Ekphrastic Review, and anthologies including Moving Images: Poetry Inspired by Film (Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications, 2021), New Mexico Remembers 9/11 (Artemesia Publishing, 2020), and 22 Poems & a Prayer for El Paso (Dos Gatos Press, 2020). Her first book, Feathered Dreams: celebrating birds in poems, stories & images (Mercury HeartLink, 2018) was a Finalist for the 2018 NM/AZ Book Awards. https://redstartsandravens.com/janets-poetry/