Among Driftwood

by David Wagoner

David Wagoner

Trees haven't come here to die. They've done that
in other forests, on other coasts, having lost
their leaves and their bark and come ashore
by themselves on a five-mile sand spit. Branches
and split logs, upended stumps, roots in the wind,
and in one small cove, someone
with nothing better to do it with
has built a shack, then abandoned it—
a doorway, but no roof, accidental windows,
no hope of a foundation. It's already
slumping back to what it was
like a sandcastle. These parts of trees
have surrendered and been washed clean
of imperfections. They won't be judged
for punk knot, frost crack, pitch scab,
or heart rot by lumbermen. The stump outside
the door has ninety rings on its face
and is looking good for more,
regardless of contractors. I remember
shacks in the woods and shacks nailed up in trees
and along bent railroad tracks,
under new freeways, and up skid-road alleys
where the impulse was to be half savage
or halfway civilized, to be where
no one could say, at least for a little while,
Get out of there. Keep moving. Go away.
I crawl inside as if I'm coming home.

Last updated August 21, 2022