Kristen Lindquist

 award-winning poet and naturalist; maintains a daily haiku blog, Book of Days


I can only mine
the landscape for so much:
oak’s gnarled branches
blocking a mountain view,
roar of mill’s waterfall
filling my ears,
ducks clustered, unmoving
on sodden grass.
My grandfather
once painted this mill’s
peeling smokestack.
My uncle worked
in the mill before
it became condos and shops,
his life governed by
the factory whistle
and the beer at shift’s end.
As a child I woke nightly
when the fire station alarm
blared once at 9:45,
curfew of a past generation.
The firemen had visited
our school, given us all
red plastic fire hats.
I had my escape route
all worked out, knew
exactly which stuffed animals
I’d bring with me.
I can’t picture it now,
where I slept in that tiny
apartment with my mother
and great-grandmother.
The river won’t let me
think. It keeps telling me,
Don’t go back there.
You’ve escaped.