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Message on a Log

photo 2-5












Message on a Log

Someone’s left a message here,
a swirling, curling missive, clear
in the flesh of this log.

They’ve stripped away the gnarled bark.
They’ve used a blade to leave their mark
in letters I can’t read.

Like hieroglyphs from ancient lands,
or characters by distant hands.
I wonder what it says.

Perhaps it tells where treasure lies.
Perhaps it warns that someone dies.
Or maybe all it says is:
                                     “I was here.”


They are probably not so good for the tree, but I do love the beautiful squiggles that beetle larvae leave on wood as they eat their way underneath the bark.

Happy Day 2 of National Poetry Month.

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2014, all rights reserved.

11 replies
  1. lsteinglass
    lsteinglass says:

    Thanks, Rosi. If there is a name for the form, I don’t know it. It just felt right when I started writing so I stuck with it.

  2. Janet F.
    Janet F. says:

    I really do love this one, too, Liz. Fabulous. It flows nicely. I can see these in a group at some point! Can’t wait to see what you discover next. BTW did I tell you NCTE is in DC next Nov.? Google to find out. Lots of people you know will be there I bet. Also don’t know yet if I will be speaking, but if I am maybe you will join in! I have a panel proposal this year! Hooray. But….time will tell if it is selected. It is at a “resort” in Maryland. Just outside DC. The weekend before Thanksgiving. Hope you can attend at least some of it.

  3. hmmmmm
    hmmmmm says:

    I have always loved those marks. Then last week I read an article about the Emerald Ash Borer invasion and learned that those creatures make the same sort of marks. I am going to choose to believe that the markings on YOUR log were made be a benign beetle that arrived post mortem, though, because I like the poem!

  4. Martha O'Quinn
    Martha O'Quinn says:

    Elizabeth, I love the rhyming format you have used and the element of surprise at the end of the poem. I was in “real letters” mode, until your comment about the beetles. One really doesn’t need the picture to conjure up an image. What a pleasant beginning to each day. Thank you.


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