Mostly out the bus window I see
pastures and fields
plains of knobby rocks,
and mountain slopes too ruggedly steep
for anything but sheep.
In Africa some goats climb trees to forage.
In Alaska, our neighbor fenced the woods
where his cows grazed.
The next summer the trees died,
whether stomped or girdled,
I don’t know.
Habitat is is
is of concern.
Aspen vigorously sprouting
upward and northern-adapted,
roots pushing out.
I have seen groves of aspen
the trees of identical size
and you might think shape gives clues
to what we might not know
trees stunted on a steep and dry south slope
or tall and haughty where the ground is rich
with soil and water,
warmth and light.
Next to my parents’ cabin
in the Cascade Mountains—
old aspens with sparse branches,
trunks scarred, black on white,
tipping and falling. But in Iceland,
from the bus, I see a patch of pines—
juvenile wood not yet ready to cut.