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A forest can be measured in board-feet.
Somewhere right now a man
steeples his fingers beneath his chin,
looks up and presents a rough estimate:
Here are a thousand Shaker chairs,
two hundred Mission tables.

What is the world’s crime
that it should be forced to pay
and pay again? I know the feeling.
Credit cards, rent, car insurance.
Just going to the mailbox
makes me numb. And then
I look around, see a clearcut
where my life ought to be.

Always leave things better
than you found them, my dad would say,
picking up spent shotgun shells
and dropping them into his pocket.
Near the end he gave up hunting,
put a salt lick on a stump for deer
and watched them from his window.
Not that it gained him anything.
A doe still comes and licks the ground
where rain dissolved his offering.

In the bay below Pu’ukohola Heiau,
the remains of human sacrifices
were once tossed as scraps for sharks.
There I saw the black-tipped fin
of a reef shark, circling.
Centuries after the last blood token
she waited, expectant, ravenous.

If I might borrow some time,
I would put forth this apostrophe:
Father in heaven, there are gifts
I might have given you: a Shaker chair,
a Mission table. But I imagine
I taste you on the rim of the cup
you used to drink from, and I’m uncertain
of how much I can afford.

Once I drove up a mountain
and was surprised by snow.
There are a thousand ways
to be unprepared, and one involves
snowmelt leaching through sneakers,
the wrong tires, everywhere timber
but no match to start a fire.
I remember I could not feel
my feet; my toes were not my own.  


Karen Craigo teaches English to international students at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. A chapbook, Someone Could Build Something Here, was published by Winged City Chapbook Press in 2013, and her previous chapbook, Stone for an Eye, is part of the Wick Poetry Series. Her work has appeared in the journals Atticus Review, Poetry, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, The MacGuffin, and others.