There’s no bird-song in the forest
at noon, only the whisper of leaves
in the wind. It’s like hearing a huge
crowd shouting, far off,
indistinctly, that something is happening,
but no victors or vanquished,
and we’re all in some “this” together.
Standing still, the murmur
of light and shade plays over
my heart-beat and breathing,
so I can’t hear even a muffled
mutter of myself, but am become
just another whisper, indistinguishable
from all the rest, mingled
in a vast common breath.
Pines rise geometrically
upright, like exclamation-marks
in clusters: the sighing is both
subdued but entirely decisive.
Our sibilant soughing sussuration,
creak, lisp and scratch,
goes on for miles,
the landscape’s shadowy secret.
What the secret may be,
will we ever make out,
as part of it is our rustling selves?
Leaves surge all together,
caught in the slip-stream
of a cosmic in-breath.
Copyright © Roger Nash. Originally published in Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees (League of Canadian Poets, 2018).
Roger Nash is inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Greater Sudbury, and a past-President of the League of Canadian Poets. Literary awards include the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry, the PEN/O. Henry Prize Story Award, first prizes in Prism international and Fiddlehead poetry contests, and Arc’s Confederation Poets prize (twice). He’s Professor Emeritus in Environmental Ethics at Laurentian University, and a cantor. His twentieth book, Climbing A Question, a collection of poetry, is forthcoming this fall with Aeolus Press, an imprint of Quattro Press in Toronto.