They Try to Remind Us
by James R. Merrill
They try to remind us, all around us—
tiny spirits breathing through leaves—
living creatures with pinchers and wings.
Open my front door, they crawl in, to
remind me of the invisible forest that
once stood here, under these floorboards.
The bugs know; they recall the spirits of
dead trees—now standing as boards, my
wood frame house. They keep spinning
webs, building homes—planning, planning
for the return of the invisible forest.
James R. Merrill has worked as a bike mechanic, Spanish tile roofer, ski photographer at 10,000 feet, a teacher for the Labor Immigrant Assistance Project of Los Angeles, a teacher of writing at Beijing Agricultural University, and at Chemawa Indian High School in Salem. Since retirement, he has been tutoring college writing at Chemeketa Community College.