Subalpine Fir | Emily Wolahan

2 mins read

Abies lasiocarpa (bifolia)


H 90’; D 18”. Tree with spire-shaped crown;         Wait, 

matted shrub above tree line. Needles 1”,                         wait—

white-striped, flat, usu. up-curved; camphor-           please

like aroma when crushed. Cones 4”, cylindrical,      stop.

pupils; upright. Bark gray, smooth to fissured. 

HABITAT Subalpine forests or parkland clumps. 


A long meadowlark call echoes valley wide. 


                A ridge line laced by living. You might want 

to sound the alarm––but wait. 


Which alarm over which thing?


                I disguise my seed as mice because once, 

                as fire ran toward us, a mouse sped up my bark for refuge 

                and lived in me. Now I am fir and mouse. 


I am waiting—my tonal register the long centuries.


                I see a meadow of hay and fleabane and lupine. 

A northern checkerspot screaming PLEASE to any horsemint. 


You might visit. You might stop. To what blazing scourge are you 

                trying to belong?

Emily Wolahan is the author of Hinge (2015) and her poems have appeared in Oversound, Colorado Review, and other places. She is a Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal and pursuing a PhD in Anthropology and Social Change at CIIS focusing on activism, art, and climate crisis.