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, poet, translator, essayist, and the Translations Editor for On the Seawall, has authored twelve titles (eight translated). An Infusion of Violets (Seagull, 2019) was named “New & Noteworthy” by The New York Times. Twice an NEA literature translation fellow, she was a finalist for the Best Translated Book Award and the CLMP Firecracker Award, with work appearing in APR, The Paris Review, and Poetry. She was decorated with the rank of Chevalier in the Order of the French Academic Palms.