Redemption

MARCH 2007: POETRY

by Trina Baker

Panting, I breach the trees
for the meadow. Feet leave
behind the dirt, moist and fecund,
packed beneath needles and oak leaves
in the shadow of redwoods
clustered around the burnt-out
trunk of a sister. Feet step
softly where owl clover springs
along the side of a muddy path.

Horses marked the trail
with dung; their hooves stirred up mud
where damselflies
flit low green and blue,
ahead of footsteps. The first dragonfly
of the season flies out of reach.
I am not less because no one
leans against me out of breath
at the end of my quick climb.

Around the pond, it’s not the fur
of a fallen animal caught
in a fallen tree limb,
but the fuzz of cattails
blown from stalks by spring wind
and rain. New reeds along the bank
add to the green decay
that floats on the water.

It is never silent here–
the wind carries–
wolf howls of boys
who move quickly on,
birds calling
attention away from nests
in the middle of the pond,
fish leaping
for dinner while they ignore
hooks before them,
lizards running
from exposure in the sun
to shelter in fallen trees,
and endless grasses making
their way through soft green muck.
A stream carries running
water beneath the flat, shifting
surface.

Branches creak. Leaves rustle.
I know how to be alone here.
A red hawk catches an updraft,
where sunshine and shadow are both God.
I push the bay tree branch
away from my face.

Trina Baker earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco. She has recently relocated to Los Angeles–for love, not air. Her work has appeared in 26, Poetry East, and Slant.