The Reason I Love Cottonwoods

The Reason I Love Cottonwoods
by Teri Zipf

Because of dust and locusts
and all the birds that circle
slowly over wheat fields. Once

I saw hawk after hawk climb
air ridges into the blue
and not one folded its wings

to prey. From up here
I can see the Blues curve
an arm around the valley

where you live and I know
every creek that makes its way
through. Garrison. Wildhorse.

Cayuse. Yellowhawk. I can follow
rivers to their source by the trail
of heart shaped leaves and fingerbone

twigs. Crows dip their wings
like winter branches
that rattle in the wind.

You must have been blinded,
or your ears hear only the tumbling
sound of rocks in the river.

Listen to the leaves.
They’re falling with hardly
a sound. In spring the sky

will fill with cotton and
their sharp and sacred scent.
Remember how the owl hunched

in the tree turned its head
to look at you, opened
its great wings and fell in empty air.

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