Where the Woodlands Were
Near a farmhouse on the old toll road,
daffodils planted by the garden club
bow like falling stars along a roadside trail
someone once called harkness ridge.
The name was lost, but the ghosts remain:
elk, moose, lynx, porcupine. Tonight,
a coyote who is no moonlit apparition
improvises a musical riff in the low fog
and the half-wild creature beside me waits,
ears alert, fur on end. A snowshoe hare
dashes through the last sleek minute
of winter into the plush spring-melt,
past a congregation of owls nestled
in the soul of a tree, wingbeats hovering
above the quiet pond where beavers
built their lodge in arboreal waters
from the trudge & reach of spruce and fir,
towering trunks like sentient ships
under Ursa Major, the sign of the bear.
All of this exists without me, and yet
maybe something is changed by being here;
a place-name long forgotten, then recalled,
becomes the beginning of a pilgrimage
as I stumble upon a path toward the stars.
My dog can hear each glinting animal
so this is not goodbye, only until we meet again
in this rare swift world, this quickening expanse,
this vanishing forest.
Editor’s Note: This poem’s gorgeous imagery serves as a frame for the emotional thread that runs through the scene—where wonder and knowledge meet with respectful cordiality.