Douglas Fir

By Cecil Bødker

The urge to be a squirrel rises unexpected
before this mast of the woods, this trunk
rising from the ground steep to the sky
by a will more erect and more
striving than I am used to
to the earth’s skin.
My eye jumps frolicking, neck-breakingly
up there, upward.
The urge to be a squirrel makes my behind
my tailbone strangely more noticeable, something
is sprouting, erupting, my nails stretching
longer, slightly folding, curling,
hungry for the bark’s coarse crust,
useful decayed antiquity
wrapped ‘round the wood like a tall
closed robe
far above full of sleeves –
arms –
stretched towards the wind’s many corners.
The urge to be a squirrel carries upward
carries eartufts topmost
carries fur and hindmost the tail
indian-red hirsute,
flight’s airy banner-hung joy-stick.
– not wings
not the bird’s talent-bearer –
glide-flight’s unparallelled tool
into the side of the neighboring tree.
The urge to be a squirrel darts upward again,
jeers, whines, scolds shrilly
down at someone’s empty
abandoned boots below
by the trunk.

By Cecil Bødker, “Douglasgran” ©1991
Translated from Danish by Michael Goldman

This poem was in the first feature of Bødker’s poetry ever published in English, published by Univ of Iowa translation journal, Exchanges.