Three Poems by Liberty Heise
Seasonal Guide to a Natural Year
Find the passerine that is least interesting to you, a bird song that comes across as monotonous. Then, become Lembeye hearing the Mellisuga helenae for the very first time. Your own adaptations have taken a turn. Behind glass, the human eye gets weaker. These aves have a mass of just over one gram. The body vibrates, it does not fly or walk or simply move. Would thoughts be lightening? Or would they be pollen? Meeting a thousand blooms each day, does the beak beam? If we turn to the chorus of night breeding Bufo taladai, we see their string of life disappearing into legs and arms in the warmth of springtime. We cannot see the bee hummingbird or the Cuban spotted toad from where we are attempting. We evolve to walking right past. Get your eye up to this single small aperture before meaning no longer emerges.
From the spar, breaking dawn illuminates buttercups and boards. The meat of trees, the life and the afterlife. In the old days, the workday started before sunlight. These were the unremarked mornings in the great Chewelah valley, perametered by the stacked and numbered Ponderosa pine. The flesh had come a long way from harpoons, baskets and mats. The prefabrication of modern living took the carbon dioxide right out of sequester. Decades of fleck built up on the mill workers vests, particles of softwood, teary pitch. Fingers on hands were missing, nicks in arms, sore joints. When the wood was not there, futile whirring of metal teeth made a dangerous rainbow. These were permanently lost. The word declares an innocence of intention. In the heating up, the mountain pine beetle makes a quick home. The startling red of the pine tree does not signal deciduous, instead, death.
For years after the Northwest Forest Plan, houses dotted the landscape with lynched Spotted Owls hanging from the eaves. The stuffed replicas dangled and swung in the temperate wind. Hard-scrabbles wanted their Old Growth. The bus driver’s hard eyes crinkle around the scene. He drove a boom before this. The children were at first alarmed and then indifferent. Chainsaw bars prohibited, now barred owls hustle the nest. Strix varia. Varia meaning a literary miscellany. Baruch Spinoza, reincarnate? The bully owl. But who doesn’t like a bird that eats what’s on its plate? Strix occdentalis. The west, the occidental. The forest’s picky eater. Either way – chainsaw taking out the crotch hollows or the larger, stronger, more ravenous living in them – it belongs to history. Distribution and range will dry up as temperatures rise. A mud puddle after a short summer rain.
Liberty Heise writes from a place where titles and labels change as quickly as the light. She grew up in a time and place that allowed her to believe that nature’s cadence is real time. She is most interested in what humans tend to ignore and become blind to and is most comfortable when she is outside. Her work can be found in Coconut, Crate, The Fourth River, Ecopoetics, Phoebe Journal, Grain Magazine, Poetry Motel and others. She lives, writes and works in San Antonio, Texas.