“After Her Affair” by Lynne Knight

Lynne Knight


Here’s what he does to reclaim the ravine:
He puts on leather gloves and strips 
the bank of brambles. This takes weeks.
He burns the debris in a pile late one night
while sparks shoot out like stars into the dark.
Then he digs for hidden roots and rakes
the bank clean. By now it’s summer.
He plants spider yarrow, witch hazel, 
arbutus and wild ginger. Lady’s mantle,
slender hairgrass, wild lily of the valley.
Hellebore along the narrow path above,
fireweed by the creek bed. All winter 
under rain the ravine readies itself. 
Buds, bursting. And when the flowers
come, the ravine studded with yellows
and whites, reds and grape blues, 
he stands at the window, his hands
still sore from the digging and planting,
the tending, his bones aching a little
deeper, the brambles nowhere to be seen.

from Rattle #42, Winter 2013


Lynne Knight: “I walk by this ravine almost every morning. Years ago, it was overrun with brambles. Then one year, whoever lived in the house by the ravine slowly cleared the brambles and planted wildflowers. I walk at dawn, so I never saw anyone at work. But it was easy to imagine a source for all the energy it must have taken to reclaim the ravine, the way it was easy to turn the brambles into metaphor.”

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