The Ridge, the Fen, and the Barren

Where I’ve lived most of my life, the landscape provides a sense of making sense. 

“The Ridge, the Fen, and the Barren”

Walk the ridge’s line, shod or unshod.
Traverse it and stand on the scree field transect.
See the fen and the barren. 

The fen in a bowl with ridges round,
the hips of Tussey and Thickhead,
primeval sisters they have come to be.
Paper thin shadows crawl cross the fen,
crest forest waves and vanish.
The laurel already bloomed pink and white petals,
five palms open, and stamens erect.
Marvel, knowing in neighboring crooks
the rattlesnake lies in suspicion. 

The barrens wait patient and cold.
Snow drapes jack and pitch pines’ flaking bark.
Old bound brothers watch quiet and lonely in their stands,
In pale midday sun their fingering shadows clutch at the frozen pond.
Wind groans, deep and tired in the boughs,
shaking the red oak’s leaves, husks waiting to fall.
Beneath the haloed moon, the bobcat yowls,
the toad and the newt sleep awaiting spring rains.

Sit on the ridge’s gnarled lap, a fallen bough
above the mountain’s spine and sternum,
between which beats a sandstone heart. 

One day descend some of the mountain.
Become found and lost and breathe in the wold.
trek back to the ridge, the fen, or the barren.

Mark the jack pine and caressing cones,
Bend needles between thumb and pointer,
Count dappled marks on the laurel leaves.

Feel the chill tannin-stained creek
gather and eddy round your knees, calves, and feet, and
smile as the heron flies over the mossy rapids back to the fen. 

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