What You Find in the Forest

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Or what I find in the forest; I’ve been trying to speak for myself only.

The pine smelled so sweet and sharp this morning. Somewhere near my solar plexus I felt a heaviness like guilt. I know it must smell this pronounced because the trees have been freshly cut. It’s not the smell of death – but of wounds. I’ve had wounds myself before that have wept, clear and sticky. I should have enough compassion for the trees not to be drawn to this smell. But I inhaled so deeply I had to stop running.

I exhale melancholy.

Someone had raked together all the long, dead branches and placed them around the bases of individual trees. E. told me that it’s a kind of slow fertilizing process. But I think the trees look as vulnerable as martyrs waiting for the flames.

I exhale anxiety.

My mind wanders on these forest runs and it isn’t always easy to sort what to take, and what to leave in the forest. Today I took home four fallen leaves home to make paste paper for chapbook covers. I took home a photo of an abandoned boot someone placed on a tree stump. I took home the reminder that this body is aging and mortal, that each day is made more precious with that knowledge.

I wonder what I leave after these runs? Footprints, certainly. Carbon dioxide.

I wonder if we shed dark matter in our wake, just as we shed bits of DNA.

I wonder if the blackbirds that overwinter here are disturbed by my having been present with them.


We talk about breath being life: inhaling, exhaling. But the pauses between – the effortless moments of waiting – without a glottal stop – are as integral to the flow of life, as death. Or is death, rather, is the hum of existence beyond this constellation of atoms.

These breathless, lifeless pauses are where we touch the dark matter of the universe – these are what is expressed in the leaps in our poetry.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. neil reid says:

    of that scent, I can find no fault in your gravitational attraction. I understand what you say. but you also say, compassion. you are, aren’t you, in sympathetic care where no part, no scent, is repellent? may I be pleased you did not turn away? were it me, I would want you coming close. yes, I too am speaking for myself.

    I love our “constellation of atoms”, as you say. as a student of our human biology, learned it is more accurate to speak of our individual selves as “we” more so than I, alone. the very mitochondria of our inherited cells were once an infection that mutually took to roosting here, and our shared good grace.

    is this all the blessing of dance?

    please know my own writing is glacial. but I read and feel all you write and share with us. you are poetry in my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

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