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brown and blueish dead wood

The Dead Breed Beauty

Richard Spilman

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  • Becki Hawkins

    Beautiful 🙏

Today, a falcon cruising above the river.
Dippers, pure grey, about the size of a dove,
splashing in and out of the water in bursts,
doing knee bends as they feed at the shoreline.
Bushtits in the brush, dull and hyperactive.
Farther in, the birds disappear, the canopy
crowds light into odd corners, and life
becomes a rustle of leaves at my feet.

In one of the campsites, a very old spruce
split by lightning halfway up but still living –
from the black scar downward a slug of bark
the size of a Jeep has fallen on three points,
a swooning tripod sculpture half buried
in muck. Campers offer their customary
reverence, cutting chunks for tinder.
Bright tents swell like fungi on the moss.

Strange the human-like gestures of dying
trees, clinging epiphytes, vines along
the riverbank. A cottonwood, roots exposed,
dances; branches laden with epiphytes
suggest women drying their hair. Here
everything climbs at someone’s expense
and the dead breed beauty. We savor it
like tramps around a barrel of fire.

brown and blueish dead wood

Photo by Bruno Ramos Lara

Contributed By Richard Spilman

Richard Spilman lives in Hurricane, West Virginia. He is the author of In the Night Speaking and of a chapbook, Suspension. His poetry has appeared in many magazines, including Poetry, The Southern Review, Western Humanities Review, and New Letters.

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