Grande Prairie, Alberta


–for Anna Politkovskaya

What fades?
Evergreens, survivors of chain-linked
generations of logging, now a cemetery
of vertical bones with marrow devoured
by defrosted mobs of mountain beetles.
Dry pine trees, fragile, faded red
like splattered blood of hunted journalists
marked in blinding daylight of corruption
and wars. The paper dollar skin of a million
carved trees changes hands to kill or save
a forest, to pay the salary of a determined
investigative reporter or to complete
the handshake of a prearranged hit.
When the deal is done, baked winds
blow tinder needles into the world’s circular
currents where the sad news is read by ever-
globalizing children scavenging through
trashed newspapers. This is the hazardous
graveyard, dumped skeletons of trees and
journalists, the unpredictable resting place
from which a thoughtful spark has potential,
in spite of death, to melt and release
a thousand tender seedlings.

*Forestry term for pine beetle-infested pine tree

Vivian Demuth is an Alberta poet/writer who is the author of the poetry chapbook, Breathing Nose Mountain and the ecological novel, Eyes of the Forest. She hosts an annual Poetry on the Peaks event near her firelookout and works with PEN’s Freedom to Write Committee.


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