My ear presses earth, a lyric
stream is gurgling in the hollows
of withered roots, the tallest redwood
in the county killed by the neighbor’s
fondness for concrete and brick .
I’m nostalgic for the spring visits
of a rare tree-bark fly, its niche
once hidden behind a grape root
before the neighbor swapped
the fruit for a palisade she says
will last a hundred years.
This mountain’s crushed between city
sprawls. Trails of white-tailed deer,
skunk alleys, became driveways.
In darkness, only in darkness,
the animals come to speak their minds,
gobbling rose buds, toppling pails
for chicken bones, pepperoni pie.
It’s heroic disobedience—roof rats
in the eaves, raccoons digging deep.
The creek has re-occupied its buried bed,
waits for a chance to toss off the covers.
I bide my time, as the owl watches
the mouse’s move—a temblor, say,
earth asserting its realm: tectonic plates
snap, roads buckle, pipes burst, the house
next door stumbles drunkenly away.
Death wish, maybe; unneighborly,
but the sun will circle in time, winds
return; the waters shake with laughter.
Peter Neil Carroll is the author of Riverborne: A Mississippi Requiem (Higganum Hill Books, 2008). His poetry has appeared or forthcoming in Sand Hill Review, Blue Moon Review, Heavy Bear, and New Mexico Poetry Review. His memoir, Keeping Time, has recently been re-issued in paperback by University of Georgia Press. He lives with author/photographer Jeannette Ferrary in northern California.