Why do you find yourself drawn to landscape?
So many ways I tried to bring my father back—
studying the photos of us when he was home
on war leave, me sitting in his lap in my baby fat,
fingering beads, fifteen months, his pipe
in my mouth in one pose, and he is smiling.
I looked for his young face in every college boy,
studied the small print of equations from his books,
but nothing brought him back, and when my heart,
attached to those blank, uncomprehending boys,
broke, it was the trees of deep woods that rescued me,
steady by my side all those years—cradle, climb,
shelter, shade; today I try to paint their portraits:
rough bark, curve of limb, their generous leaves.
Robin Chapman’s ninth collection of poetry, Six True Things (Tebot Bach, 2016), is about her childhood growing up in the woods left for camouflage in the Manhattan Project town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She is recipient of Appalachia’s 2010 Helen Howe Poetry Prize.