by Susan Marsh

Harried work day, mind ablaze.
Budget. Spreadsheets.
Eyes crossed over Power Point slides.
At last, escape.
Sun warms my back.
Feet pound the trail.
Lungs fill and life returns,
Limbs loosen.
It takes an hour.

I reach the secret stand: my aspens.
More truly, I am theirs.
One brain-frying afternoon, we met.
I saw their twisted trunks.
Heard a grouse drum. A bee’s drone.
A leaf rustle. I lay down.

The trees held me then,
Held me in green baskets.
Their twisted trunks made me smile.
They took me into their galleries of
Sweet breeze and sunshine.
I find them again today.
Could find them with my eyes closed:
Bees drone, grouse drums, home.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The first time I found this stand of aspens, not far from my house, was on a day when I was feeling sad, alone, and in desperate need of comfort. It felt as if the trees invited me to leave the trail and climb up a brushy slope to lie down in the dry grass beneath them. There I cried, felt sorry for myself, wrote in my journal, and took a nap. I dreamt I was, or maybe actually became, part of the aspen stand for a time, and when I stood up I nearly fell having forgotten what legs and feet were for—I had roots. Ever since, this stand has offered solace, and I go there often, mostly in a good mood these days. I have written about this stand in prose, but this was my first attempt at capturing what it means to me in a poem.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Aspen Trees” (Wyoming) by Susan Marsh.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Marsh is an award-winning writer living in Jackson, Wyoming. Her work has appeared in Orion, North American Review, and others. Her books include War Creek and A Hunger for High Country.