Balsamroot in the Columbia Basin
By Francis Opila
The night of the hard frost, the icy moon showers its cold light on the rock soil, the dawn brings red-winged blackbirds singing among meadowlarks. You wonder, what song do you sing on the edge of your love, as you thaw, opening to balsamroot in bloom, their sunny faces splash gold over the sagebrush steppe, along the basalt cliffs, desert parsley, prairie lupine, you know your way home, but you’re still adrift, deep shadows sink on the Columbia below, wind on the edge of the precipice, turkey vultures soar on thermals and gusts.
Francis Opila has lived in the Pacific Northwest most of his adult life; he currently resides in Portland, OR. His work, recreation, and spirit have taken him out into the woods, wetlands, mountains, and rivers. He works as an environmental scientist, primarily with water quality. His poetry has been published in Latitude on 2nd and Empirical. He enjoys performing poetry, combining recitation and playing Native American flute.