Whose woods

I think I know whose they are,
those fields, that wetland forest,
we hold the deed that draws the lines,
there are metal pins somewhere,
some fences, and mail in the mailbox
bears our name, but deer run through,
turkeys congregate behind our deck,
foxes nap there, and squirrels
drag corn from the field,
leaving kernels outside our door,
and though I haven’t seen the skunk
in months, something tells me
it hasn’t gone far. Out on the road,
asphalt paid for by the neighbors
after we granted easement,
we met a man on a tractor
who used to farm all those acres,
our forty-five and more,
still planting rye and wheat
across the road on other
owners’ land for hunting rights.
And still, no rights or deeds or lines
can help us learn the language here,
to schedule the rain, predict the harvest
or decode the fruits’ ripening.
Morning and evening the birds
chatter on and on, but even now
after all these years,
we still don’t understand.


This poem was inspired by Robert Frost’s words about fences and the teaching of Thomas Merton, who says that nature speaks to us in “the voice of the present moment.”

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