Kathryn Smith Salt-Washed Pictograph Just Beyond the Abandoned Bunker

To peel the bark of madrone to its pith. To drive a road grown mossy between tire tracks. To know a place by its guardrails, and where they're fractured, its bridges and those who've jumped. I've grown from these things, then toward them. My ancestors were first to clear-cut these forests, and I must claim this as my history, the way I claim--what? Loneliness? The violence of species toward species, an oil rig's midnight vanishing? Blank harbor. A seagull drops its thieved mussel again and again to crack it open. I claim this exposed meat. These kelp heads bobbing the high tide. They look almost animal, an orderly procession of sea lions. Peel the bark from red to pale. A person could, if a person wanted to. A person could reach the deepest part.


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