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Conservation

By Cristina Eisenberg

Northwest Montana, September, 2020

I walk on an ancient Nez Perce trail
through an old-growth larch forest,
a relict patch saved
from the chainsaw’s sharp teeth.

Trailplant, Adenocaulon bicolor, marks the way,
guiding me deeper into the stillness
of this fecund, prodigal woodland,
as it did my ancestors.

Witness trees—whose lives transcend
plagues, crusades, cataclysms
caused by human hubris—
surround me, take me in.

Each step, each breath, brings revelations
about forgiveness and solitude, and
reminds me of the divine union
implicit in this woodland.

I sit on a log and look up.
Above the forest’s soaring nave,
a patch of blue shows me
the lost architecture of hope.

Far below, a wolf track
pressed cleanly into the forest duff
invites me to go deeper—
and I do.

This doesn’t extinguish megafires, bring back
hundreds of missing persons feared dead,
or restore lives lost to the virus and racism,
but it helps me fight back.

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