In 2018 I moved 3,003 miles from Oregon to Vermont – both states known for greenery and trees – to be closer to my daughter’s family. I’d retired in 2007 from careers as a public information officer for Portland’s water utility, public relations director for Portland’s Children’s Museum, and ten years of teaching high school English. Bits of poetry rested in notebooks untiI got serious about my love of writing and reading poetry. Since then more than 600 poems have appeared in journals and anthologies. Five collections of poetry have found publishers with two more on the way in 2023.
I am grateful to Firestone Feinberg for welcoming me into the community of poets in Verse Virtual. (He and I shared an admiration for seahorses.) I am proud to serve as a Contributing Editor to VV, treasure the contacts I have made with other poets, and appreciate the work of Jim Lewis.
Last winter I finished up One Bent Twig, poems about trees and my fears for the havoc that climate change plays on forests. I assembled poems for a first loved tree, sequoias, ancient survivors, towering sugar maples, Douglas firs and red oaks. I’ve hugged some of the best and have planted dozens. I revere the sentiency of trees. As an Oregonian for over 40 years, I witnessed the decline of old-growth forest and breathed the smoke of wildfires. In Vermont, ash borers threaten the trees that first people knew as the heart of their creation story. I have planted four American Chestnuts on my land and baby them with hopes they will survive to make nuts. Future Cycle Press will publish One Bent Twig in early 2023. Bill McKibben wrote in a blurb: “Perhaps you know a tree, or perhaps you would like to; if so, then this book is for you. Its luminous verses are a happy reminder that we're not the only ones here!” Two of the poems below are part of that book.
I spent most of the COVID pandemic with two dogs in the woods. During those months I wrote Wild Apples, poems about down-sizing, moving thousands of miles, and isolation. At the same time I welcomed two grandsons into the world. Wild Apples will be out from Fernwood Press also in early 2023. I include two poems from Wild Apples below.
My website at triciaknoll.com has links to a great many of my published poems.
Poems coming out in One Bent Twig
Tree Frogs of North Ash Creek
Portland, Oregon I listen. Every January night. No mating calls. The little green Hyla regilla are gone from this drainage. Neighbors sleep without waking. My bit of world is drop dead silent. I wonder where they got to.
Maybe to the vaulted log cathedral where pins drop and all who listen hear. Where they run into end-of-the-line typewriter bells, my mother’s humming, evening taps at Girl Scout camp, the slamming door of my father’s Buick announcing he came home from work, Bella’s purr like fine gravel in an orange juice can.
The Tale End of the Monsoon after Reading Han-shan
My toe-push lifts the oak rockers, here where I want to be, snuggled out of gale winds that plagued his road to Cold Mountain – that tree-top mist, wet stones, fishtail-slapping streams, hidden caves and well-strung vines, gusts that nabbed the climber’s breath and flipped his scholar’s pages toward death. By my fire, my old-woman shadow slips back and forth in bedrock dark into a vision of his papers stuffed beneath the roots of roots to keep them dry. My window opens to a swirl of branches writhing and leaves all brouhaha, what he kept at bay hunkered beneath a cinnamon tree.
Two poems coming out in Wild Apples
Someone had to ask. From a place as perfect as Oregon. Vermont has four seasons: freezing, thaw to mud, bugs, and leaves on fire. I know trees – to sniff maple steam in the sugar shack. To see the wild tom turkey with his harem high-step over browned-out pasture, hear the loons moan and trill at Noyes Pond. As snow tiptoes in on wind, awe here is rain to skate on. I can snuggle with a library moved from Stafford to Frost, migrate from Tillamook cheese to Cabot. I believe in creatures of the deep, Champ. Vermont is where my daughter is. The girl who brought home the first deer one fall when the men drove north to deer camp. She tagged unblemished roadkill, freshest deer the butcher ever skinned.
Are you asking if you’re the only puzzle piece that fell under the couch? Absent from its box that’s tied up and ready to recycle? I want to be in a community the way an aspen leaf holds a breeze to flip its silver sides. L is under-nourished. Do not feed it anything that stretches it. Neither snake oils nor fake friends. I want to hang onto where my brother held my hand walking me to kindergarten. Loosen your heart knots. Braid the best into waterfalls. Accept a rose, frog, snowflake, windstorm, deliveries, or a rock garden as threads. Let me serve what grows green. Hold onto oneliness. Use that loose L in other ways: like mind, live wire lasting, lavish, love-make, listen, laugh, learn, lure, look. Let it lighten. Usually the eagle hunts alone. Though not always. Fly what is.