- What I Didn’t Photograph
The purple silhouetteon white icing of snowcottonwood, cottonwood, cottonwood.
Would you believe how often I look to you,archangel, in your hallowed stem,braintree, mountain corral, redeemer.
You are my shadow, tree.There wasn’t a timewhen you did not carry my affection—
walking the crumbled sidewalks—hometown wire fences couldn’t restrainunabashed, soft-confetti release
which turned sodden hours laterafter the rains ruined your joy—caterpillar-like fluff amid aspen leaves
in the gutter—you littered the wayto church, me in my scuffed patent leathernot alone, not alone, not alone.
You, like the Jesus in my heart.Even in your sorrowful waste,your dual spirit of blizzard flight, [End Page 59]
and course ashen bark—tough gray skin, you, elephantwho won’t forget—
I know you trumpet inaudibly low,mourn the grief I bury, we all bury,your lifespan is shorter than an oak
but lingers in rough-sawn stumpswhich dot the landscape:burnt grass lawns, pasture, and town parks.
Your telepathy tastes like milkfrom a kindergarten carton, likevanilla wafers melted on the tongue.
Perhaps I should have pulled over,waded through the drifts to capturethe contrast of bright regal boughs,
your stolid beacon upon cold canvasbut I exhaust you now, attempt to honoryour print secure on my chest.
Alone, alone, alone,the Christ child all but packednow and moved away. [End Page 60]
Kierstin Bridger is a Colorado writer and author of Demimonde (Lithic Press) and the forthcoming new collection All Ember (Urban Farmhouse Press). Winner of the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, the 2015 acc Writer’s Studio award, an Anne La Bastille Poetry residency, she was also shortlisted for the Manchester [End Page 184] Poetry Competition in the UK, and is editor of Ridgway Alley Poems and co-director of Open Bard Poetry Series. Find her recent work in december, Contrary, Hawaii Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. She earned an mfa at Pacific University.