Heading Into The Wilderness
Walk in the Woods
Heading Into The Wilderness
Tree skeletons blossoming, not yet.
Imagine, imagine you being the first frightened and
I'd prefer to be the Indian watching the horizon,
woods upon woods,
mountains upon mountains,
prickly with barren tree branches,
rivers busily foaming downstream,
in a sound akin to highway murmur;
lakes cracking their ice coats
heaving their chests in the warm sun.
When, having no roads, no cars, to turn your thrust
through the landscape
into a 3D movie, a video game experience,
it would take you a lifetime to walk across the land,
Laborious past left behind.
The dirt road uphill under an arch of trees,
Toppling? Not toppling? Toppling? Not toppling?
pipers alarmed choir vouch for spring:
'Spring is here, wiggling its way out of the mud bed!
Peppery taste watercress salad for lunch!'
A porcupine scurries across the clearing.
Steps hurry to watch his needles trembling up a tree.
Fragrance of grass,
softness of soggy soil sponging under weighty tread,
while the porcupine scrambles higher up the tree
Voices talk to him in tender care,
hoping to coax him into the lenient trust of
stillness, at least,
if not into inhaling the happiness of being alive.
'Think of the pipers, my porcupine,
the weight of the sound in their small bodies.
How they don't grow deaf, or crazed by carrying the
into their fingernail-smallness?
They're compelled to sound out the song of spring.
Please don't be prickly, my porcupine!
Lighten up, kid! It's spring!'
But only when steps die away,
drown into the remote car zooming off,
will my porcupine descend.
Walk in the Woods
The moss and its people, shoulder to shoulder,
identical soldiers in height, delicate poised green
antennas, shoulder to shoulder a sea, a hill of tiny
The dried ferns, scorched in arthritic hands of
witches. Why scared, child?
A turquoise car abandoned in the woods, bushes of
ferns growing through the windows.
Moose tracks. Wild turkeys scattered the dried, dead
leaves away pecking for acorns.
A network of maple syrup plugs sucking the sap out of
trees, barely waking up to spring.
Leeches we are, preying on life.
Down along the trail, down, down, until here we are:
the Beaver's Pond. I stop short, appalled by the
Death beaver eating its way through the young wood.
Biting through it savagely, serial killer. Here a
fallen oak tree, majestic once, all chewed up. There a
birch white column, massacred, half-drowned in the
indifferent mirror of the lake.
Around the lake ridge scores of trees, pillars tumbled
chaotically, dried branches, sun-bleached skeletons.
As we approach the lake, death realm, furious the
Beaver King flaps his tail against the water, to scare
us away from his hatchery, his little ones hiding
under the water, as if I care to bother them,
entranced as I am by the death scenery.
Like this untimely fallen to ruin forest is my
hometown. "Why, beaver, are you eating our young
forest?" He knows he can't be killed himself, the law
protects him. "Beaver of death, build your dams, turn
the river flow of life into stagnation, still ponds.
What can you do? Nature made you so that you can't
bear the sound of flowing water, can't bear the sound
of waves. Their murmur triggers your death crusade;
unstoppable, until all water whisper is silenced. You
can't help it; nature made you for this purpose."
Instead of shoots of green and buds of spring, ants
and monster crawlers nest in the young trees untimely
chewed into death.
The waterfall at the dam cries mourning for my
youngest brother, mourning, wailing for the child with
bright blue eyes so lovely an infant in my remembrance
of him, replacing the young man face of lately.
Startling how unforgotten, deep in my memory his tiny
I mourn the walks in the woods we never took together,
the talks and confessions we never had, the hope I
never gave him, the love stuck in mute grudges and
irritation with his adolescent arrogance and foolish
squandering of life he was caught in.
Beaver, don't chew my soul with the regret I never
inspired my brother, shared my vision with him. The
promise of life and happiness I fought to find for
myself, might have helped him stay away from death.
The waterfall, its howling pain, resonates in my ears,
my heart trembling to tears: cry water, cry! Cry! Cry!
Cry water tumult! Cry out my powerlessness.
Splitting pain, door flung open by fear and regret I
feel for those I might not meet again because of
death, even for those that were cruel to me, whom
perhaps by now life has torn to humbleness and regret,
before I endeavored to meet again to tell them: It's
all forgiven, forgotten, don't blame yourself for the
pain you gave me, it's all forgotten, forgiven, die in
peace; I understand now, when I wasn't forgiven
myself, I don't want you to crumble under a pain like
mine, it's all forgiven.
Turn to the buds of green on the branches exploding
with spring, ready to spread out in riots of lively
green. I forgive as I hope I am forgiven too.
Forgiven I am. He would have told me so, but he didn't
think it would be so…
My brother knew we loved him. He knew all too well,
played us on his little finger. He knew we loved him.
He just couldn't bear life anymore. I can.
Walk, walk, cry now, cry now.
Bye now, bye now.
* * *
The cracking noise of twigs under my feet, the silence
and stillness of the pond, the mirrored evergreens in
the reverberating circles of water, remind me of my
childhood, of my mother.
As if my brother didn't want to leave her womb, its
comfort, he clung to it, scared of the outside, scared
of growth, scared of independence.
Why, my mother, is it so?
I find your comforting love in the burning embers of
the fire. In its pulsating red glow, your heart, glow
of love and fervor, my mother. In the flames and
sparks spurred in the darkness, you are with me, my
mother. The sizzling of water in the firewood, the
smoke stinging my eyes, your sharp tongue, my mother.
You're in the crying of the screechy owls, lonely in
the night. Under the stars that shine, in spite of
weather fortunetellers who predicted rain and snow and
cold to chase us into regretting our wombs of warmth,
your nurturing, your hugs.
You are, dear mother, in the laughter of my child; in
my womb, in the tallness of the room, in the wooden
ceiling and cracked oak beams you are, as I fall
asleep in this home deep in the woods, my Easter
On the table we were served tonight your foods:
chicken and mashed potatoes, like your Sundays. Even
in the warm soapy water I wash the dishes in, the
memory of childhood and you, my chores then of washing
dishes in the cold water, my umbilical cord still
tying me to you as I wash dishes.
Mother, teach me how not to mourn you while you are
still alive, as I mourn my dead brother. Teach me how
to be you, my mother, so that I should never miss you,
my mother; teach me how when the door of those
estranged from me by life or death, when that door
cracks open, teach me not to break down, but to be a
Teach me, mother, how to be you!
Performance poems by Ella Veres