The city was built on Cambrian rifts,
boot-sucking mud, a rush to stake alliances.
Now it’s birch, white pine, and alder creaking,
a low, flat tailings pond where nothing thrives.
Cat’s cradle of a radio tower the only hint
that the human hive once buzzed,
air-drilling its way from darkness to darkness.
Like trees in Kyiv that have been dead for twenty years,
still fully in leaf, you imagine breaking a branch
and hearing the hiss and crack of a voice.
Doesn’t an engine revving somewhere seem to lend the flies
that gather round us like a prayer? There’s no one here.
Mushrooms tilt their mitres like a brotherhood,
break the locked box in the wood. A sticking point:
that the day has never been more beautiful and clear:
this is the place you’re more likely to be struck by lightening
than attacked by a bear. Into spore-charged air
the blow-by-blow seems to take—that, in the beginning,
houses bloomed like campanulas on the highest point;
that, in the end, it wasn’t the mine but the mall that collapsed.
This copied with thanks and admiration from the April 2015 issue of The Walrus.post was originally published on this site