Ground-Truthing: POT (point of termination

Checklist for fieldworkers: Trees are reliable witnesses and some poets follow their laterals. Worm-routed by trace heavy metals, some maps “commit sociology” while others interconnect with intangible elusives. While some maps muzzle moss to the goal of a full stop, when allowed to speak, only the greatest diversity of maps will get closest to the truth of trees. As stories ground-truth by transition zone along the misstep of industrial mismappings, the palimpsest of anadromous salmon remap themselves deep within trees to reveal which ones are which.

Locating datum in the field notes where contiguous layers time slow compilations: Considerable, the answers of trees grow young boles into poetic questions, while many young poems bewilder the old root and rhizome phrase. As green resilience, leaves gather many kinds of knowledges and many shelves of books forest transformation into potential nurse logs. Factory-processed, horizontal stacks flip static to the vertical across libraries cut-off from forests. Today, registered professional foresters joke that we log trees in order to do the paperwork required to log trees.

An altern-modern forbearance: mosses are stop-gaps, scabbing over cartesian dualities, slowing commercialization, resisting standardization. Mountain hemlock trees often live for 700 years. Conifer cone crops peak every 7 years. My East Van haircut has been pterygoid for 7 months. This line took 7 seconds to write. On the West Coast, ground-floor bookstores feed the majority of their knowledge to silverfish. Everywhere, dictionaries flip open to gatefold illustrations of trees and even though forests are stands, they will all fall before they will run.

Just as a poem should not be confused between “what it is and what it does,” ecological science should not be confused between what it does and does not reveal: Young forests do more than sequester carbon and old forests do more than give what they take. Old redcedar forests produce high levels of methane, medicine and culture and 10 nurse logs anywhere are worth more than 100 CEOs in Terminal City. Respect is not just a gimmick response to the equation of love + respect / solitude + time but is an awaking to what resides: Dm małdu txa_’nii goo da k’wan:

Luk’wil ts’üü yeen a k’ala Ksyeen dił ‘lii holtga demtii da laxdii. Gyet nł üü adagan wilt bał a da sgyeda na’aat. ‘Naga wuwaaldiya gwaa ligi ndaasn sga’nakt, dzaga łaxłaxsa gangan ts’alu dił ga’an’onu. Stuul hanaam wan nłguu;łkt; a txadoosda galts’ap. Nłoomsga; gyeda txa’nii yets’isk. Aam dza heelda mak’ooxs da suunda gya’wn dił xts’ii sgan dzawas da galksa gayna. Lu t’ooxłga; gyidza asdihawi dił ‘nii gan gyisigoo gyisi’aks. Liksgyedm galts’ap wil ‘waatgit dił dm k’a lisaaẅsga’nm nagooga dm ho’yaxsm. Lu t’ooxłga; gyidza asdihawi dił ‘nii gan gyisigoo gyisi’aks.

(Tsimshian phrases adapted from the S’malgya_x Living Legacy Talking Dictionary, UNBC 2013)

This poem “Ground-Truthing: POT (point of termination” originally appeared in Of Borders and Bioregions. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 218 (Autumn 2013): 98-99.

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