Tall pines fill the frame of my kitchen window.
These dense layers of green seem to infinitely
recede across my back neighbor’s property.
Should I ever hear a chainsaw’s caterwaul,
my only standing will be that of witness.
Straight-line winds uprooted the red pines
surrounding my brother’s Northern Minnesota
lake home. He was heading west
to visit friends when his cell phone rang. He
returned to downed trees and open sky.
Trees quietly sift at the heart of grace.
My life formed on the windy plains of North
Dakota—a place of vast horizons—and still
I’ve found the steady companionship of trees
more dependable than shifting colors of sky.
My brothers and I left North Dakota, as did
so many others of our generation. An oil boom
brought new folks to mine what lies beneath
grasses that once fed bison. I am an outsider
to the economic needs of North Dakotans.
I condemn the fracking frackers,
their inevitable “fraccidents.” And yet,
as I stand at my kitchen sink, one fragile end post
to one tunnel of green, hot water runs
across my hands and across morning dishes.
I am not without need and the weight
of my body bends towards mercy.