Drumheller Springs

We arrived late afternoon after a day of masked errands
and ten feet from the car found bitterroot crowning
a basalt outcropping. Above us the sun freed itself
from dense black clouds. In the meadow
above the springs camas were still flowering.
More bitterroot and wild onion were just beginning
to bloom. The creeping phlox with its tiny blue flowers
shone. And fleabane daisies. Small campion.
My wife takes more and better photos than I am able.
Does it more mindfully and with a better camera.
I limped along the path to scout one last blossom, maybe,
to capture on my phone and text to my daughters
to prove I was up and around, outside in the weather.
In my luck that Saturday, waiting, I considered
my sin of getting older, of getting by.
Choices I’ve made—things I’ve said or done
that delivered pain—cut through me, Sometimes
though, sometimes, I lucked out—marriage,
daughters, these flowers. I considered the Spokans,
the thousands of years the tribe made camp here.
Stopped for fresh water on the way from salmon runs at the falls
north to the Little Spokane River.
They gathered balsam root, bitterroot, camas, wild onions.

I crouched to peer at bitterroot popping from the rock.
With no notion of deserving grace, my spirits lifted.
Huckleberry, thimbleberry, serviceberry:
a ladybug upon the purple-blue camas.

John Whalen’s first book of poetry, Calaban, was published by Lost Horse Press.

Article Source: Inlander