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From: Vol.01 N.01 – Ecopoetic Ruminations

Thirty-Fourth Material Confession

by Tim Shaner

We have three Douglas Firs in our backyard.


A messy tree. We have three of them. Two out front.


We have two apple trees. One we thought dead but now


Is bearing fruit. Sour apples that make you sick, though


The deer do just fine. They know just when to stop by,


A face there suddenly in the window. Imagine a young buck


Startled, hopping through thorny blackberries. Rising


Out from under the English ivy, a major invasive villain


In the Pacific Northwest, berries for the taking, one & all.


Messy when the wind blows and everything starts falling,


Including sometimes large, heavy branches, one of which


Stabbed itself into our roof, causing us to have to get it fixed.


Insurance paid for that one and didn’t drop us this time.


We have a plum tree. And a fig. And holly gone all gangly


As if confused. But plants are never confused, which is why


We love them over humans. The fig bears no fruit


And the plums are like cherries in size. We have azaleas


Where the white picket might be—like a natural fence.


They come in four colors: red, pink, white and purple.


I see everyday beauty out the windows, when I see it, front


And back—none on the sides to view our neighbors,


Whose houses are just like ours, variations on a theme


Called suburban development, circa the 60s, the ceilings


Uniformly popcorned with asbestos.  Off through some branches


I can see the blue shapes of the Cascades. Imagine


The Butte itself covered in houses. They go up to a


Certain border and stop before the commons. Imagine


Manhattan without Central Park. “Your mountain


Needs you.” We have four large rhododendrons. We have


Weeds, mosses, & lichens. We have ferns. Stellar jays & crows


Squawking back and forth. The crows after the eggs, I guess.


The breeze drowns out the sound of traffic below and


Above. We have finches. Wrens. An alder, laced sock-like


In lichens and mosses, arced like a desk light


Over our roof and chimney. Sometimes wild turkeys


Will migrate to the roof after pecking about


In our backyard, in what passes for a lawn—but clearly


There’s plenty of stuff there for the critters. Then one,


By one, they’ll fly off, nervously coasting down


Into the neighbor’s yard across the street. Douglas firs


Taking over, shoving out the native habitat, thanks


To the humans, particularly Europeans. We have squirrels,


Of course. One day a raccoon waddled into the backyard


When I was on the phone with my sister, going over the plans


For her treatment. It backed itself up against one of the bushes


For a good scratching. Telephone wires cut through


The backyard, several wires, each with their function,


Are strung from pole to house. We have ants, flies, bees, wasps,


Caterpillars, worms, silk and earth. The alder’s actually


The neighbor’s. We have a Japanese maple, under which


A fledgling rhododendron, with purple flowers. That makes


Five, not four. White, pink, red. But the bulk of it hangs


Over our house, save the roots, which are invisible.

Published: January 2014
Tim Shaner

Tim Shaner’s work has appeared in The Long Poem Library, Colorado Review, The Claudius App, Jacket and elsewhere. He curates A-New Poetry Series in Eugene, Oregon and teaches at Lane Community College. Picture X, his first collection of poetry, will be published by Airlie Press in the fall of 2014.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.