Timothy Pilgrim

Claiming, not owning

Forest trail vanished in pine,
we hike, neither one following,

find spongy moss winds
by a faint spring coaxed up

to half-light. Its water tests
boundaries, breaks free, forms

small pools below. They fill,
spill into others — each finger

escaping any intention to hold.
The tiny rivulets trickle alone

until a second sliver, a third,
then one more, join. Together,

they stream private paths down,
each resisting being owned.

We choose separate ways
across their defiant flows.

Drying tear, sullen sky

In your own desert, paint
a lone birch, no other green
being seen. Brush dipped

in white, stroke wide
for trunk, main branches up —
use mint for leaves, ash-gray,

bark sheets, life peeling away.
If no ladder to reach top,
paint a tall one of those.

Colors, water all packed,
climb, paint the high limbs.
Reach far out, daub sun,

some sky too. Dream of rain,
swirl in a gathering storm.
Make each drop oblong

like a tear drying in sullen sky.
Use a slim brush, tip so fine
your still-life stands out.

Timothy Pilgrim, a Northwest poet and emeritus associate professor of journalism at Western Washington University, has published over 300 poems — with acceptances from journals like Seattle Review, Windfall, Cirque, San Pedro River Review, Third Wednesday and Otoliths. He is author of Mapping Water (Flying Trout Press, 2016) and co-author of Bellingham Poems. His work can be found at timothypilgrim.org.
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