Peter Goodwin, two poems


The tree is dead.

Twenty feet tall and dead

fifty feet off a point of land and dead.

A dead tree in a shallow meandering river

an isolated dead tree, separated

from the other dead trees and stumps

and from the flat featureless land

a dull green wet washed reedy land

a dead tree

with its bare bleached gray branches

covered with black birds

who watch with indifference

as a small boat winds its way

up the channel and anchors

a boat anchored in the shallow waters

watched by the black birds on the dead tree

a solitary boat passing through

waiting by a dead tree

watched by black birds

waiting for another day.

The Elk River, Calm and Indifferent

Under a cool winter wind and bright sky, the river sits still,

serene; seeing or doing nothing while winter has its sway,

just a squawking gull piercing and disturbing the quiet,

landing on the river, unsatisfied, screeching, taking off

as a larger, darker gull approaches, a gull which is no gull at all

but an eagle, a young eagle not yet with its bright white head

and tail. The raucous gull dogs and bombs the eagle

as it circles pretending to ignore that wretched noisy gull,

gliding down almost to the water and up again, circles, and

dives again to the water, and up again, all the time tailed

by that gull and down again, this time catching a dead fish