On a trail in the Oregon woods

breath tastes like old skin.


Lichens I scrape from a sponged log

scab the back of my soon-to-be future hand,


the siskin’s sweet eats a eulogy

for the fallen. When we hug a spruce


six centuries thick, moss threads

our fingers with ringlets green as time


while our free hands, a strained reach,

embrace a girth of twenty missing arms.


If resin is the smoke of our breaths

a blue-tailed skink climbs faster than thought.


Here, whatever it was escapes us.

The trunk trembles like a yawn of iron.


Unseen yet felt, the crown scrapes

a sky of pre-Columbian stars.