by Tess Gallagher

Choices by Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side

of the house to cut saplings,

and clear a view to snow

on the mountain. But when I look up,

saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in

the uppermost branches.

I don’t cut that one.

I don’t cut the others either.

Suddenly, in every tree,

an unseen nest

where a mountain

would be.

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Brief Biography

Tess Gallagher was born in 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington. She attributes her adventurous personality to a childhood of exploring the abundant wilderness around her home. She holds degrees from the University of Washington and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has taught at various institutions including St. Lawrence University, the University of Montana, the University of Arizona, Syracuse University, Bucknell University, and Whitman College.


The theme of this poem is to think about the impact of your actions before you act. This is evident in the poem when the speaker sees the nest and decides not to cut the tree down.
Nature's Engineers The Dam Beaver
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