Returning the River

Green trees on mountain

These pines know our history
Our trespassing ways
There are no footprints to trace here
In the dark, frozen waste

Among the debris of cornstalks
A trail of kerosene at night
From the torch used by my brother
To set the neighbor’s house alight

“I should’ve called in the fire, but—”
My mother says with a pause
With the dark pines of Gray Canyon
Towering numb over us

“—he’s just returning the river”
Mother said with a wry smile
The fire seemed to be winning
As the flames danced higher

My brother’s back in the slams now
And for a long, long time
But father died upstairs with
The river back in his eyes

These pines know our history
Bark bared to the wind
Returning the river
As our ruin descends



Poem by Paul atten Ash


Paul atten Ash is the pen name of Bristol, UK-based poet Paul Nash.

His poetry has been published by Envoi, the International Library of Poetry (ILP), Raw Edge, Tandem, Understanding, and the Deep Adaptation Forum

Paul won the ILP International Open Amateur Poetry Contest for ‘Tsunami’ (Grand Prize Winner) and his work has been published in two ILP hardback anthologies: Songs of Senses and Memories of the Millennium.
Campsite Bio poetry website: