Dance in the Old-Growth Forest

Trees beside road

Hemlock, Douglas fir and Sitka spruce
stand tall and groan, dancing their rooted dance.
In the canopy pileated woodpeckers hacksaw giant crowns.
Tanagers lift their wings to the topmost branches.
A fawn is born, a snag falls, folding-door spiders skitter.

Lichens beard from limbs thick and bent as crippled legs.
Mosses dull olive to kelly green cushion everywhere.
Saffron-yellow hen of the woods flourish in cavities
abandoned by raccoons. And pines sway, their arms
powdering a dust of pollen on rhododendrons.

The understory dances. Carpenter ants shiver through
leaf rot, heart rot and root rot, egg laying, shifting
larva and food stores, umbrellaed by mushrooms from
windstorm and snowstorm. Miniature gladiators, shrews
cavalcade, gnawing on slugs three times their length.

All is a dance of abundance. Sheltered from rain,
thirsting for rain, storing rain in soil-deep reservoirs,
arpeggios of life from cloudburst to budburst dance
a heady quadrille, each sequence complete in itself,
green melodies interweave—waltz, polka, and ballet.


Poem by Dale Champlin


Dale Champlin is an Oregon poet with an MFA in fine arts. She is the editor the Verseweavers poetry anthologies of winning poems from Oregon Poetry Association contests and /pãn| dé| mïk/ 2020: An Anthology of Pandemic Poems. Dale has published in VoiceCatcher, The Opiate, Visions International, San Pedro River Review, catheXis, Pif, and elsewhere. Three collections, Isadora, Callie Comes of Age, and Andromina, A Stranger in America are forthcoming.