Picnic table before and after the crowd


Richardson Park, outside Eugene, Oregon


Picnic table before and after the crowd

In a distant forest
a tree shudders,
understanding fate.

Then comes the cutting
and nailing until a table
emerges to be set here—
the one waiting
for tomorrow’s crowd.

The one waiting
for you to paint it.

All our journeys
are such waiting tables—
but turn around and
we will glimpse the dust
raised on the road
behind us.

We will see
yesterday’s children
wiggle at our table
in their wet bathing suits,
leaning into one another
and laughing as they spill
their food with
eager hands

In the same way
we spill our days
onto the canvas
of our lives.

Your brush remembers this
as the bench remembers
its mother forest—so much
of yesterday spilling out
onto the summer grass
of the years that only
emptiness can
paint it.



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