Ancient stump with brown pine needles sprinkled on the forest floor.
No sign of the trunk and canopy that was once rooted
Through and by this humble stump.
Further ahead, a hickory stands like granite.
Around its crooked and askew trunk winds a vine,
Embracing the hickory.
The vine is splayed, its fingers fly out
Like the digits of a child touching the air.
To my left, a white pine, the monarch of trees,
Massive and straight and soaring to untold and mythical heights.
Directly in front of me, two trees,
Soldered together like conjoint twins.
Are they/is it one tree
Do they nourish each other?
Sprinkling the forest floor,
White flowers as delicate as spiderwebs.
Lazy in the sun that bleaches the air.
The breeze is gentling,
Touching my skin like a breath.
Christopher Johnson is a writer based in the Chicago area. He’s been a merchant seaman, a high school English teacher, a corporate communications writer, a textbook editor, an educational consultant, and a free-lance writer. He’s published short stories, articles, and essays in The Progressive, Snowy Egret, Earth Island Journal, Chicago Wilderness, American Forests, Chicago Life, Across the Margin, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review, Spillwords Press, Fiction on the Web, Sweet Tree Review, and other journals and magazines. In 2006, the University of New Hampshire Press published his first book, This Grand and Magnificent Place: The Wilderness Heritage of the White Mountains. His second book, which he co-authored with a prominent New Hampshire forester named David Govatski, was Forests for the People: The Story of America’s Eastern National Forests, published by Island Press in 2013 .