When We Are Six

We sat on the fallen log of a centuries old
and enormous cottonwood, only a lost limb,
gigantic though, dropped through the indifferent
moan of some passing anonymous spring storm
or petty tornado forgotten in the distraction of flood time,

from somewhere among limbs less weighty than the subject
of the entire tree, like the subject we considered,
where the river passed by behind our backs
and we could not see what debris it herded
slowly down stream, rafting down time toward some
richly blossomed delta, the wine dark, fruit dark sea.

We talked of our fathers’ news of the sunglint muzzles
of a new war in a far somewhere called Korea
(a place of fragrant silken blossoms, of red
crowned cranes fishing idly in rice paddies).
I do not remember now what conclusions
about the new-forged conflict we may have come to,

Steve, Robbie, my little brother Jack, and I.
I was six. Sixty years later the thirty-eighth
parallel is more demilitarized than it was
after the cessation of appointed bleeding,
(the unpeopled zone a paradise for untroubled
species of birds, the sacred tonsured crane—

of mammals, even the near gone amur leopard—
of trees, peacefully flowering kin to the long rotted
cottonwood limb under our boys’ rumps,
dogwood, pungent with blossoms, fecund pollen,
sweet life-honey flowing fruit). Sixty years later,
still we are six. Still we talk of the news

of the polished scythe of new war, or a single
liquidation and enveloping cloud of nuclear winter,
somewhere called Korea, a place of fragrant silken
blossoms, blood lust right there and spreading again
right back here, where the river passes by
behind our backs, and we cannot see what debris

it herds slowly down stream, rafting down time
toward some richly blossomed delta, the wine dark,
blood dark sea, the petty seep of violence
that will come burbling back again up-stream
like Cosmoline on water, when we are six.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.