That it should inhere beyond cut
pines, uprooted shrubs, a wilfullness dug
through the soft needled floor of flat
woods, someone has set aside her other
balance sheet and bequeathed the pond,
the low ground called pocasin by first inhabitants
who knew the smooth leaves on Dahoon holly
and in their bad time gathered gallberry,
chainfern, fetterbush, where a bald cypress
exposes polished knees like someone used
to kneeling. Anxiety and weariness shed
in this place of long-needled pines, their
cones like bristling planets above our
heads. The pond’s shifting green
stain is the motion of the elastic sides
of water, hands held in the air as if
new in their skin; crushed scent of verdant
world the taste beneath tongue, our senses
born in the shadows of cherry laurel and
sassafras, the sun beating through the dust
that has left such a grayness over face and eyes.

John Allman | Mudlark No. 31
Contents | Leaving Home 1999