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On First Seeing a US Forest Service Aerial Photo
of Where I Live

All those poems I wrote
About living in the sky
Were wrong. I live on a leaf
Of a fern of frost growing
Up your bedroom window
In forty below.

I live on a needle of a branch
Of a cedar tree, hard-bitten,
Striving in six directions,
Rooted in rock, a cedar
Tree made of other trees,
Not cedar but fir,

Lodgepole, and blue spruce,
Arrogating like
Bacteria the fan-
Lip of a draw to draw
Water as soon as it slips
From the snowdrift's grip

And flows downward from
Branch to root—a tree
Running in reverse.
Or I live on a thorn on a trellis—
Trained, restrained, maybe
Cut back, to hold up

Those flowers I've only heard of
To whatever there is and isn't

James Galvin

Everything We Always Knew Was True
Copper Canyon Press

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