COUNTING RINGS

Crews arrived through early river fog by ferry,

decades after tender green shoots burst forth

below the old stonewalls. Gathered many

years ago by industrious squirrels, acorns

and pine cones grew, spared from the flames

that charred Swan Island in 1750.

In 2018, a weary late afternoon crew of

brush monkeys gathers on the resting side

of an all-morning island swamp out.

Sating thirst, they swiped salty brows, swatted

handfuls of black flies, deer flies,

and ravenous, hardy marine mosquitoes.

Dozens of deer ticks hopped on to celebrate

by biting bare flesh.

Bullbuck Bob bellers instructions to his

skidroad crew,

“power up the bulldozers, cut out those cat roads,

time is money!”

In the wake of the CTL harvester, Clem

the clambunk operator waits

to drag out full tree-length logs.

Halloween storm 2017 left swaths of blown down

trees from the Dresden side of the Kennebec River

across Swan Island, over Merrymeeting Bay

onto Richmond and Bowdoinham shores.

Dozens of cold decks piled and waiting their turn

to float over the Kennebec on a tug-powered barge,

transporting neatly balanced logs on double

trailers, to be hauled over the curvy, hilly

roads of Maine; final destinations:

wood products manufactories,

sawmills,

lumber yards,

firewood dealers,

and paper mills.

Witnessing a caravan of 18-wheelers hauling

massive full logs, once healthy trees, I ponder:

what events they witnessed,

what stormy or drought weather withstood,

what challenges endured, before

the fateful storm that ripped their sturdy roots

from centuries-long life on the historic island.

If only to hold a thick slice,

able to count the rings

revealing hidden stories

of just a single once-stately

Swan Island tree!

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