These pines like it cold and dry.
Crusty and rough, I run my hand down the trunk.
Pitch clings, a sharp odor, a resin-scent that reminds
me of grandmotherís skin against my cheek.
Underneath the dark peel, a rust red. Not blood,
but the color of skinned knees, or thatís how I remember
shinnying up itís long flank, my hands scrapped;
my jeans torn, grabbing for the first branch:
A small child even at 13.
Needles stood out like my dadís whiskers after
a long weekend drinking. I carefully plucked a green
bundle and tested the sharpness of its points;
each summer cone a tight bundle that in the fall
opened up, showing its nuts.
My grandmother showed me how to collect them
as I followed behind her, too young to be left alone.
The height is what I mostly remember, climbing midway,
looking over the town, knowing Iíd go away,
leave the comfort of these branches that held me.
by Cynthia Pratt
Cynthia Pratt has a teaching degree from Humboldt State College in California and a master's degree in environmental studies from The Evergreen State College in Olympia. She resides in Lacey, Washington with her husband and works as a Biologist with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Her poems have been published in Jeopardy, Crab Creek Review, Steelhead Special, Exhibition, Pontoon, and other publications. Her poems also appeared on Seattle Metro buses chosen by the Seattle Arts and Bus Program and on the Tacoma buses chosen by the Tacoma Arts Commissions' Bus Poetry Contest. Other awards include those from the Washington Poet's Association, Washington Writer's Association and from the Signpost Press.