Sara Hailstone

Steadying a Shield

The forest replaces itself,
fallen decomposing timbers,
another lush new shoot rising up,
moss on stone.

The patriarchs of this landscape
could be glacial legislature,
an entire culture
thumb printed, pressed
blunt into the face
of an unforgiving land.

Water erosion, curved convex,
fissures and fossils,
a resting woman
arcs her steel spine
against a cavern
sleek from condensation
in the middle of a humid
summer day,
she cracks her fingers,
sets a poem down:

Her body, a pioneer road,
held community,
netted, some struggled to
navigate her sharp turns,
mudslide floods and frozen
dirt wheel ruts, potholes.

She chinked off northern writing
tablets, birch tree sacred scrolls,
her trees, her lush impenetrable
foliage, her body, a wild colony,
sleeping amongst fern-laced blankets,
snowdrifts and thawing spring melts, overflow.

She changes each season,
Her body, a north country river road,
held community, netted, conduit and vessel,

navigate her sharp turns, shallow
rapids, pooling depths, her rocky banks,
her limestone surfaces, sunlit bays,
Learn her body, a map,
see her there, sword in hand,
steadying a shield.