The Forester

He twisted his head
his blond hair and blue eyes
underneath the tin hat with
the rain dripping off the back, then
peered down at me and with a
shovel in his hand I got my answer:

“The clearcutting of Douglas Fir
in this particular coastal range is
better for the trees we plant,
better for the soil we plant them in,
better for the animals that live here..”
I shut him off for it was
a company answer, much like
a telephone company recording
that repeats itself, if you
haven’t anything better to do
but go on listening.

I finished planting a tree,
his answer didn’t bother me,
even when I raised up and saw
off to my left, a mud slide that had
been the side of a mountain and now,
was at the bottom of a ravine,
making good time to the Pacific.

The trees that had been there were
of no consequence either,
for as far as you can see
they had been all cut down.

I know a logger that would give
away his chain saw to be able to
confront a Sierra Cub member
while standing on a stump in that exact spot,
and with a gleam in his eye he’d say:
“Yep, that’s the way to do a
logging operation. You cut ’em all down!
Look man! Now you can see!”

His answer meant full bellies
for three children and land payments,
the company man was answering for
people that shuffled lives and papers,
ate in fine restaurants whenever they want,
drove expensive German cars
and ship whole logs to Asia.

I have learned to reconcile all of this,
it’s the way things have been for a long time.
What I could not reconcile was that
later that same day I heard an Elk bugle,
twenty minutes later a cable screamed
dragging a log uphill to a high lead show

and they were in the same key.

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