Nancy Naomi Carlson

November 18, 2020 Carlson Nancy Naomi

Immune to lightning and Arctic cold,
floods and burning blasts of wind
down Sierra Nevada slopes—
everything nature can dish out—
it was made to last 3,000 years
and could have grown to 300 feet,
could have survived another half-millennium—
Earth’s largest on Earth, though saddled
like the rest of us, with time—
could have succumbed to a natural end,
brought down by its own heft
to the forest floor, a regal
final resting place, there among
the yellow pines, white firs,
there where it had stood before native tribes
surrendered its shade, before whale oil was
rendered to light—but now,
weakened by drought stress and fire,
invaded by beetles carving elegant runes
in its bark, it has died, like Benkei,
a giant warrior monk, standing upright.

Nancy Naomi Carlson is a poet, translator, essayist, and editor, and has authored ten titles
(six translated). An Infusion of Violets (Seagull Books, 2019) was named “New
& Noteworthy” by the New York Times. Twice an NEA literature translation
fellow, her work has appeared in such journals as APR, The Georgia Review,
The Paris Review, and Poetry. Her translation of Khal Torabully’s Cargo Hold of
Stars: Coolitude (Seagull Books) is forthcoming in January 2021, as is
101 Jewish Poems for the Third Millennium (Ashland Poetry Press), an anthology she