Ode to Tsuga

© Matthew Word Bain

more than exhausted
or tired enough to lay down
hemlocks have fallen in quantity
cool, dark groves where tiny needles
blotted out all but the faintest hint of light
are now the new skylights in old forest ceilings
and the ground is strewn with thick trunks
their short nubs of self-pruned limbs
jutting out jaggedly now underfoot
they are not all gone, though
one still stumbles across
short stretches of trail
where the ambient sound
drops out of a sudden
like a catching of breath
and footfalls fall silent
as the carpet of tiny needles
absorbs sound and cushions soles
these are moments of rapture
which catch my own breath
and elicit my gratitude