What Remains

photo of brown pine trees beside body of water
Bigelow, 30 years ago,
had fewer people but more cattle.
corn lily and gentian mangled by hooves,
cow pies littering the granitic ground

although we mourned the wounded landscape,
we still found solitude on our hikes

the glacial cirque beckoned -
a massive cliff at its head
packed snow remained in its shadow
untouched by sunlight

now the access road, partially de-commissioned,
is a longer hike for older feet,
but the cattle are finally banished to the lower valleys,
and the marsh marigold, freed from trampling,
is riotous during spring’s thaw

soon the lily pads will emerge
to saucer around the surface of the lake,
and the rare gentian will surprise us
under the next rock outcrop with her impossible blue -
a blue so intense we will want to breathe it

what will remain in the next 30 years?
will the lakes shrink?
when the willow brittles and the lily pad withers,
only the cliff face, immutable and immovable,
will overlook the memory of a once-verdant refuge
and the flow of endless water

the snows may depart earlier each year,
and some of the oldest trees are dying,
but for now the eerie whistled call of the varied thrush
echoes through the stands of hemlock and fir
and dragonflies hover and hawk
over the marshes sodden with snow melt

Barbara Parchim

Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon. She enjoys gardening and hiking and volunteered for several years at a wildlife rehabilitation facility caring for raptors and wolves. Her poems have appeared in Allegro, Isacoustic, Turtle Island Quarterly, Windfall, Pedestal, Jefferson Journal, Cirque and others. Her first book, What Remains, was published by Flowstone Press in October, 2021.