(after Sally Mann)
Violence is its past. Its present
violence is silence, nostalgia, forgiveness
which takes believing in a place where
deer appear just before evening to dream,
drinking water where the blue heron sits
still searching, tracking. Blessed be none
of this, isolated Overlord whose ever-
loving word is life, who knows
the view is best from faraway. A cursor
of geese across the dull sky seems to pull
the gloaming down. Up close, here and there,
deep scars gape the bark, form a sort of mouth
where someone tried to cut it down.
More than once. Remnants of collapsed
fence in the distance, barbed wire
that once marked the border
of someone’s property. Now the field
seems endless. The lichen on its bark
could outlast us on nothing, on nothing
but air. Its slow-spreading radius and layers
reveal, to those who read such signs, how
long ago something happened. After
rain the landscape, moss-draped, looks
almost clean. Vacant and dripping,
silver and green. It’s true, all that
breathes and sees is wounded for longing.
For longing for light, the tree unbends.
Slowly and always, the land amends.