Red Flags on the Hillside

Marking a property boundary,
in the course of my years here
the rise to the west has acquired
the status of a ridge, formidable
in repelling foolhardy intruders –

persons like Bruce the Logger
who dared despite my warning
to drop a venerable yellow birch,
worth plenty on the timber market,
a deed he sorely came to regret –
but with harmony a prime objective
let’s temper the bloody invective.

A century ago the Austin family
barbered the hillside to graze
their cattle. It was they who built
the stonewalls that presently plunge
into the bush. These I scavenged
to construct a bulging stone circle.

On my rambles I still come across
the odd strand of rusted barbed wire
sunk in bark or running ankle height
between the regenerated hardwoods.
These relics, torn from the earth,
I offload at the Minden landfill site.

As if for the first time I look up
from the garden and there it be!
Two crows cawing alternately
swoop through the alder fringe.
Higher on the hill some maples
already betray a scarlet tinge.

How the white pine have shot up,
crowding out the old pasture!
This autumn I shall cut the limbs
overhanging the path to the forest,
piling these on the gully side,
a bristling bivouac for rabbits.

Sentinel oaks occupy the topmost tier,
the last to shed their khaki jackets.
The setting sun fixes its spotlight
upon the regiment at full attention.

In the storm’s throes no-one noticed
the grizzled vet fall prone in the snow,
white shroud encoffining a wrinkled corpse,
a bounty of firewood for future winters.

Newly sharpened, the chain releases
aromas of oak mixed with gasoline,
and when the saw runs out of fuel
I pause to watch the ferns uncurling.

Douglas Smith, formerly a teacher of Anthropology at York University, is a homeopathic physician.and author of several books on alternative medicine. It is claimed (although Dissident Voice has no proof of this!) that Doug and his partner grow the best garlic in Haliburton County. Read other articles by Douglas.