Solstice, December by Joe Cottonwood

Dawn when it comes
seems grudging.

Descending jets hum, invisible
above this clouded mountain
as hundreds of humans circle, floating lower
toward the airport far away
in the valley by the bay.

Wider than my spread arms fingertip to fingertip
rises a shaggy wall, massive trunk of a
young redwood, less than two hundred years old,
highway of squirrels,
homestead of owl,
a burn scar, black cave, at its base.
Spiders make busy in the bark,
webs drape like prayer flags.

Leaning, propped by tree,
the iron rim, the rotting spokes of a wagon wheel,
pioneer relic from an era just beyond.

Touched by my fingers tapping keys,
the laptop glows.
Tomorrow, daylight will be brighter.
The tree knows.

Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. Nights, he writes. His most recent book is 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses.