With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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My father walked with me in the woods
behind our house.
He pointed to a plant which,
in southeast Alaska,
carpets the forest floor in summer.
He said the names of the plant,
its scientific name and common name,
explained its life cycle and uses.
He spoke quietly, with assurance
and the kind of love and awe he reserved
for the natural world.
I looked up at my father.
He was very tall.
I listened to him with all my being,
not so much because I wanted to know the plant,
but because I hoped, someday,
he would love me like that.
This poem originally appeared in the chapbook Song for a Mountain (Roses of Desire Press).