I was born and brought up in Wales and my connections with America, through to the age of 60 really, were through admired writers like Frost, Steinbeck and Whitman. Then, during my time teaching creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen, I was asked to double as an adjunct professor for the Central College of Iowa, teaching their exchange students over in Wales. Almost simultaneously my sons started to marry American girls and to move across the ocean, starting a sequence of visits on our part to America's West Coast. 'Bush Country' tries to re-capture that first period of adjustment in a few short cameos. 'Logging: Sequoia' was written after a visit to Washington State and tries to catch the sense of beauty I felt in visiting a forest there, a visit which left me with a real sense that the actual process of logging, the timber industry itself, can be almost a part of the natural world.
Scenes from 2004
Semesters of Iowans flew in,
came to our college, bearing names
like Serenity and Harper and
Nathaniel. Puzzled, kind, a shade
wary of creative writing,
the obscenities at least, they
wondered there were so few Christians
Later that year, we were
flying over Nevada’s lunar loneliness
into LA, its size and sociability and
heat. Then Seattle, a city built in that
so big countryside, with Mount Rainier,
old volcano, its snow, its height, seen
some days across the Puget Sound.
The evening we went to the football
game, they asked us, everyone asked,
“You guys going to the game?” (No
scarves, no replicas, so how do you
look as if you are going to a game?)
We lost (that is, Seattle lost),
four-nil, but on the bus back,
an inner-city bus, three fishermen,
warm from their evening on the Sound,
came sopping wetly on, swigging
from a hip flask. And asked,
“You guys been to the game?”
First published in Cake Magazine (U of Lancaster), 2011
Along a green deep-inlet
coast, such trees, such climb.
Douglas fir, Scotch pine, sequoia,
mellowed to surviving certainties
of bark and reach and resin.
Hewn down by sweat and tackle,
log-hacked and floated down
Columbia River, Willamette,
those deep long waters, logging’s
dominion in a calloused clasp.
Bordering time’s timber-build,
the forests now hold history
in their height. We feel the stretch,
the leaves rustled by winds,
seeming to applaud the story.
First published in Muddy River Poetry Review, Fall 2016
© 2018 Robert Nisbet
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