05/21/2018 Marty Williams hosted by bruce
THE CLEARING (FOR MY FATHER)Oakland poet, Marty Williams's work appears most recently in Atlanta Review, The Heron Tree and Poetry East, as well as in anthologies, Bearing Witness: Poetry By Teachers About Teaching and Winged: New Writing About Bees. With the Bay Area Writing Project and Amherst Writers and Artists, Marty leads writing workshops through Room to Write for writers of all ages. She also co-coordinates the monthly Bay Area Writing Project reading series, Teachers Write – Writers Teach. Marty is currently working on a manuscript, The Forest Within, poems about hometown Oakland, California, and her homeground, Alaska.
That year, well before thaw, he cleared
a path through scrub alder and spruce,
halted where the slope flattened out,
drove a stake into the hard ground.
He sunk pilings for a foundation and returned
to build a cabin on the bog. Alone, foot stopped
on the shovel, he heard a loon. Knew the raunch
of bear nearby, outside the circle of light.
Season after season, he left his work in town,
went there to that clearing. Peeled back the trees
with his axe, salted the bog with gravel
from the lakebed. There were summers
full of sawdust and hammers,
wheelbarrow handles cleaved to his palm.
Warm in the snug, square cabin he dreamed a garden
full of flowers and daisies gleamed
bold and white in the evening. Made a home
for themselves there. In the face of the mountain,
on the shore of the lake.
In the afternoon, all wood smoke and gin, he watches
the young birches grow, block the lake from
his view. He sits there, still, into evening,
waiting for the loon or the bear to return.
Gravel sinks, the woodpile falls out of its rows.
Trees creep back into the clearing.