Little Forest

boreal mixed forest saplings can be planted
surprisingly close to one another
three per square in a grid of one-metre plots
            Eastern redbud and basswood

no two of the same size side by side
choose from canopy, lower tree layer
understory, shrubs
            sugar maple and tulip tree

dig holes as deep as the root system
dip your thumb in powdered mycelium
rub onto the sides of the root balls
            elderberry and dogwood

add to each hole a handful of mature forest soil
a pinch of asemaa with loving intentions
to nourish the young trees
            red oak and witch hazel

push mulch away from stems
to avoid rot, help the little forest grow tall
return the land to the oldest Elders
            snowberry and sycamore

* asemaa, tobacco in Ojibwe


Poem and photograph by Meg Freer

Meg Freer grew up in Montana and now teaches piano and writes in Kingston, originally known as Katarokwi, on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory. Her writing and photos have been published in journals such as Ruminate, Arc Poetry, Burningword Literary Journal, Eastern Iowa Review and Sequestrum. She is co-author of a poetry chapbook, Serve the Sorrowing World with Joy (Woodpecker Lane Press, 2020).