Two Poems by Dorothy Cantwell
as is the crack of a felled tree
or the sudden silence after chainsaw shriek.
as is the dust of the rotted stump
and the sun blind chaos of carpenter ants,
as is the shattered ashen top
reaching long fingers for the lost
spread of branches, struck and severed
by lightning, now like so many a phantom limbs.
The wood in the trunk is still strong,
and my body shudders with the blade’s vibration
as I slice into the flesh.
The story in its golden rings
and the rich, rising smell of the living tree
shame me as I cut it into pieces.
Now that I know that trees
communicate with each other,
sending electrical impulses through a network of roots,
sharing comfort, support, warnings -
Now that I know that the rainforest trembles
with fear at the sound of killing machines miles away,
and that a California Redwood sweats with terror as
its neighbors gasp in acrid smoke,
even this mercy killing
seems like a sin.
Wild Goose Chase
On the September lake
sweet young turtles lie on rocks in the sun
glowing like small bronze statues
watching me watching them as I glide by
One by one they slip into the water though my paddle is still
A wild goose swoops down and lands on the lake,
sending up a spray like a water skier approaching the shore.
I believe she is lost from her flock or injured,
for she is calling plaintively, rhythmically
as if signaling her location.
I think of those sea creatures who
have had to overcome their fear and
bump up against the sides of boats
to be freed by human hands from fishing lines or plastic.
I try to come closer but as I get near enough to see
the white feathers on her beautiful black neck
she lifts and skims low across the water to the far side
still honking mournfully at the empty blue sky.
I can no more help her than I can
my own grown child, lost in a harsh world,
ensnared in a chaos of feelings,
but too stubborn or fearful to let me
approach to try to untangle them.
I return to the dock weeping about the bird
and my husband steadies me as I step from the kayak.
The goose will be fine.
Dorothy Cantwell lives in New York City and has worked as an educator, actor and playwright. She has been a featured poet in the Great Weather for Media Sunday Series, Su Polo's Saturn Series, at Viviana Duncan's Stark Reality, Patricia Carragon's Brownstone Poets, and at the Huntington Poetry Barn. She continues to read her work in a number of New York and Long Island venues.