FIELD GUIDE TO SYCAMORE ISLAND, BLAWNOX, PA

FIELD GUIDE TO SYCAMORE ISLAND, BLAWNOX, PA

FIELD GUIDE TO SYCAMORE ISLAND, BLAWNOX, PA

For Rick Duncan and Allegheny Land Trust

By Mike Good

 

Morels break into damp spring light

past the three-trunked sycamore

on the channel-side where river traffic

 

flows, past the great blue heron nest

rising above the pebbled shore. Coal

barges tear silty loam and leave river

 

rocks for the Allegheny to hawk

and swallow, where turkey vultures sun

their wings like black crosses on electric

 

trees, where cedar waxwings trill

inside the Indian cigar tree. Scratched

spicebush potpourri. Orange

 

impatiens exploding. Do not live

like the wolf spiders in the storage silo

dining on tadpoles, never knowing

 

the dredge spoils that rise above the jet

skis and the fishing poles, never drinking

the sumac tea that boils into red paint or

 

holding the delta of green cottonwood

leaves that twist and conspire, never

rising with the ailanthus toward

 

the canopy sprouting neckbeards

about girdled cambium

as our island

slowly deposits

itself down the river.

I could

open my eyes and peel

grapevines off softwood.

I could break down

at any second.

I could smell acrid water

pouring from the discharge.

I could see

myself burning in the sky.

 I could have been an eagle.

 
Mike Good - headshot.jpg

Mike Good’s recent writing can be found at or is forthcoming from Adroit, december, Forklift, OH, Rattle, Salamander, Sugar House Review, The Georgia Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Ploughshares blog, 32 Poems blog, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and elsewhere. He holds an M.F.A. from Hollins University and helps edit the After Happy Hour Review. He lives in Pittsburgh and works as a grant writer.