Tulip Poplar, Winter
adorn her branches,
amid a canopy
of stick and sky.
I come here
in winter’s quietude,
dreamless yet awake,
what will become
of the child
who grew too far
along a pioneering path,
the one who
does not belong here,
only exists in a future,
in the Chesapeake clay
to be formed.
your own crown is your quintessence,
you wear it
in all the ways in which
you see the world, diverged.
has no voice, sings no song
without vocal chords is
a guitar without strings,
can only hiss – winds passing through
can only moan,
as if struck, but never plucked
speaks only in silent sky spirals,
circles and surveys,
doing thankless dirty work
searching, ever following dissolution
lest the earth fill
with stink, rot, and death
is the antithesis of one who preys
in the shadows, chasing greed
does her work in the daylight,
does not kill to live, but is ever generous,
puts her head down to work;
despite a constant scorn,
her silent song sings virtue
Big Gunpowder Falls
Counting September steps on muddied trails of rock.
Walking with branches of my family tree on a riverside path.
Waters rambling in the reservoir river outlet, crashing waves
from damming concrete upstream. Families sitting in clusters
in flat water, fully clothed, like living rainbow rocks dotting the shallows.
Walking further, past waders, talking with my sister
who is pushing the youngest in a stroller, we lift together
over obstacles. The older two running ahead
as wild and free friends, sharing a secret language,
a temporary kingdom in the twists and turns of a familiar forest,
the same way, as children, my sister and I did.
Imagining creatures in carved out rock dens,
singing silly made-up fox songs, a-cha-cha-cha.
Plucking ripe pawpaw fruits from low-hanging branches,
pushing their banana sweetness up through smooth green skin.
Gathering ancient horsetail plants for tea in the last days
of the summer without snakes.
About the author
KAT COOLAHAN (they/them) is a writer, poet, naturalist, activist, and teacher living in the Mid-Atlantic Piedmont ecoregion of the United States. Kat holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and has written for past positions with Towson University, Baltimore County’s Department of Forest Management and Sustainability, and Tualatin Hills Nature Center.