Poppa’s Register

lisbeth-whiteLisbeth White is a poet/dancer/performer and VONA alum. She works as an expressive arts therapist, supporting people in discovering the arts as healing. Her current poetry project centers around ancestry and the unique relationships women of color experience in connection to nature.

Poppa’s register

he walked the woods with legs
swinging loose from his hips
his frame slight as a whip

his gaze read canopy to underbrush
taking the forest in measures
which would be sawed for harvest
which allowed to grow another season

in the mornings we would wake
to find him staring fish-eyed across
the dawn’s quiet opening of the hills

heads knotted against buttress roots
we slept without tents
i imagined i heard him in the night
rasping apology into the scent of pine
needles crushed between his fingers

was he a good white man
aware of which deaths
made roof and floor for his life

we found ourselves at alpine lakes
in dry heat towards summer’s end
we trailed behind him
learning to greet trees he knew
by name

my easy sway when it arrived
hushed like their give in the wind
my stillness rooted in their heartwood
each year my brown body grew rings
same as those he marked for cutting

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