Month: December 2021

Clever Parking

© Matthew Word Bain

smooth wheels
and an alluring facade
humble vernacular looks on
is this an image of the future?
is this what happens next?
big dreams for a small town…

Shadow Transformed

© Matthew Word Bain

power distorted
by greater power still
the light of nuclear fusion
casts a strong shadow

the angle of projection
and where the shadow falls
determine the shape of the shade

Littoral Tread

© Matthew Word Bain

treading in shallow water
on the trail of the elusive Vaccinium
life in the liminality of the littoral zone
with all its literal ups and downs
inspires me as it always does
so I soak this in while in its presence
wanting to absorb something of its resilience
to which I can then later turn
when I find myself in liminal zones
and not so much treading in shallow water
as treading water in the depths

Portrait of a Shade

© Matthew Word Bain

limbs not so long ago held aloft
and dancing on the horizontal
now jut out at sharp angles
from their once vertical trunk
as picturesque as poignant
but poignant all the same

what becomes of the shade of a hemlock
when the hemlock itself becomes a shade?
it cannot vanish into darkness – so it dissolves
into the light let in by a new hole in the canopy
beneath which the support that held up that shade
now slowly returns to the soil
having found its way
to the ground

What Makes a Dream a Dream?

© Matthew Word Bain

after a grey golden hour behind a low cloud bank
the sun returns to brighten the transition to twilight
turning the thin white clouds a soft, pastel orange
and the dull white sky to a welcome light blue
walking around this town was a dream, really
I woke up the next day knowing I had gone
but every aspect of my memory of this visit
was just like the memory I have of dreams
it was as though I had just floated through
and the whole place was made just for me
just for that evening, just for my meander
and, while I do have these images to share
they themselves have a quality about them
more consonant with dreaming than waking
and I’m still not sure what to think of that trip
one day I will go back and see what else I find

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

Beautiful Remnants

© Matthew Word Bain

an unbroken view of treetops and ridge lines
looking southwest toward Buena Vista and Glasgow
rather an unexpected pair of names in such close proximity
though one is aptly descriptive of this scene, its own backdrop
and the other more closely related to its distant namesake
by virtue of geology than their geographical proximity
might otherwise suggest – as Ben Nevis emerged
with Pangaea in the same chain as those pictured here
though they have drifted far apart in the intervening years
old these ridges are, worn down with time and weather
and by my feet as well, though I try and tread lightly


© Matthew Word Bain

a beautiful cluster
piled on top of one another
fruiting bodies of an invisible network
link nodes across kingdoms and life to the soil
the original pioneers of life on dry land
humbly consume decaying detritus
while underpinning all that rises above

Donald and Lydia

© Matthew Word Bain

xanthophylls in evidence as chlorophyll fades out
but the anthocyanins and carotenoids have not yet appeared
at the time this photograph was foraged, the nights were still too warm
these toothy leaves belong to Castanea dentata, or American chestnut
as common as American chestnut trees still are in many parts
chestnut blight tends to set in before they set fruit
on this day, however, was found a chestnut mature enough
to have born fruit, the prickly, empty husks of which were found
scattered around the base of the not overly large specimen
even a fruiting tree like the one found is not likely to be pollinated
as there is often no telling how far away the next closest fruiting tree might be
the next closest one of which I know is about eight miles south and west
John Prine’s Donald and Lydia reborn as American chestnuts