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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 4, December 2014

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Michael G. Smith
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA


Borderlands

Where does a rotting log end and Earth begin? At a downed fir, a semi-amorphous material fills the arced space between the trunk and the ground. Moist and crumbly, part wood, part soil, part unknown viscous matter, the substance emanates an odor at once of storied decomposition, and yet fecund and inviting.

These islands of decay and life are called nurse logs. Vines, mushrooms and an alder have sprouted along the fir's surface. Insects, some no larger than a grain of sand, mine tiny crevices in the bark. Birds wait in the forest's canopy above me. Lizards, salamanders and mice bide their time in the leaf litter.

A carpenter ant emerges from a gallery carved in the log. It stops mid-zigzag at the tip of my index finger, and then scrambles onto it. Sweeping its antennas, the probing ant tickles the hairs on my knuckle. Quickly it scurries away and disappears into the log.

just now
my fluttering
heart

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