Two Poems by Jack Johnson
Leaving the Garden
When a Great Northern swallows the tracks,
we work in the garden without talking.
We leave our weed pulling
to walk the fire trail to the river.
A car’s wheels hiss up Derby Canyon.
The Wenatchee crawls below the rail bed,
snakes toward the Columbia.
We glimpse an osprey overhead
and try to spot a catbird
meowing high in pine branches.
We hear quail rattle the wild roses,
the snow berries. So—
he sees us before we see him—
a brown and yellow spotted snake—
his flat head balanced above his tail,
the sudden rattle
a Rainbird sprinkler striking tin.
All things move in coils.
In smooth roots and yellow grass,
the sky disappears.
Too many ways to go with a title like this— The dogs ass to ass or the squalling cats. But also the head rubbed. Yes—the head bone. Or the one found in the yard accidentally while digging to plant another rose bush. All those mammoth bones inside the plains, the bones of our loved ones giving earth a shape. Also the title could mean mistakes made or something to chew on— pleasure made of teeth on bone.
Forest trail photo courtesy Shutterstock.