Viewshed

By Patricia Clark

A twenty-inch feather with black bars. Stones I’ve picked up.
An acorn with its cap beside it like a cup.

Chunks of gypsum from a mine I explored,
a postcard of a heron—eye glittering, not bored.

Pens and pencils nestled in a metal box.
A magnifying glass for peering at flowers and rocks.

A clump of lichen, gray-blue, smelling like smoke.
One pressed leaf with a black spot—from an eighty-foot oak.

Dusty gold wing of a half-eaten moth—
so slender it wriggled in, hid under a cloth.

A three-pronged branch tip—with unopened buds.
Whatever ripe swelling, they ended up duds.

Ahead through the glass stand our woods going bare—
pine needles, dappled ground, color smearing the air.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/08/viewshed/308068/