From here it feels like I’m living
in a bonsai garden. Mountains
in the distance are smooth stones.
The leaves of scattered clouds
glow at sunset like Japanese maples.
Deer move through the grounds.
Headlights on the roads below
are as fuzzy as paper lanterns.
From this nest in the Sierras
I can see roofs of houses adrift
in the mist, like small boats.
But mostly I see a green cloudscape
of forest. Aren’t you lonely?
I’m always asked.
It isn’t lonely in a tree house,
I answer. It’s peaceful. Smoke
threads up through the trees
like smoke from a man’s pipe,
and it’s as obvious to me
as cigar smoke is to you on a subway.
My job’s important. It’s not
an escape, as you suspect. Why
don’t you visit me more, you ask?
I’m not living on the upper floor
of a fire station, with a fire pole.
Don’t worry. We’ll keep in touch,
I promise. But friends up here
are like birds on a roof.
One by one they disappear
as the snow flies
video by Mark Ledford