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Karen DeGroot Carter


Armstrong Redwoods Relief

After Rikki Santer*


Midmorning, the high woods envelop us

as we stand creekside waiting for direction,


shade and damp settling in. Listen,

our guide says, the creek’s song a sudden balm


now that we’re silent. Smell, he directs,

a scooped offering of California bay leaves


in hand, swirl of woody eucalyptus.

Nearby underbrush rustles miles below


nature’s fog catchers, drops of dew

captured as manna. See, he says,


over and over as we walk, the trees’ stories

stitched in scars, generations of natural


and man-made affronts survived, evidence

of tenacity, determination, what can be.


The fairy circles begin to make sense,

the dense underground mat beneath our feet


conducting the actions and reactions

of all it connects. Distress signals


a call to arms, triggering the strongest

to reinforce the weak, allow stumps


to sprout, reach skyward for much more

than just the beauty of it all.



*This poem was inspired by Rikki Santer’s poem Dew Point in Big Sur in Issue 2 of Bicoastal Review

A native of Syracuse, New York, and a graduate of Syracuse University, Karen DeGroot Carter currently lives in Denver. Her novel, One Sister’s Song, was published by Pearl Street Publishing of Denver, and her short fiction has appeared in BigCityLit and Drunk Monkeys; her poetry in Interim, North Dakota Quarterly, Nixes Mate Review, California Quarterly, and other journals; and her nonfiction in Publishers Weekly, Literary Mama, and other publications.

Armstrong Redwoods ReliefKaren DeGroot Carter
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