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Orphan

Trees were chainsawed years ago,
So long that I've lost calendar.
Cutters hacked away their limbs,
Dragged their bodies to nearby lot,
Stacked them in crude pyramids,
Part of a plan that never lived:
Flat-top box in blacktop middle,
Insult to birds, acrobat squirrels,
Woodchucks, raccoons, skunks and rabbits.
Remaining trees breezed easy, spared,
Sighing shoulder of nearby river.

Wide cutting scar still slashes grove,
Gash where trees stayed absent after
City planners paved path protecting
Hikers from mud, from contact with real.
Trail walkers cellphone yak,
Stuff their heads with iPod buds,
Listen not to cirrus sky.

Footpath lone once wisped those woods,
Shady lazy soft underbrush as I
Ambled through maples, beech and birch,
Seeking solitude for getting high.
Under the buzz, I felt as if
Trees had adopted me, for I was orphan
Lost without their leafy comfort.

I passed those trees to visit the river
To stand in bright winter, gaze downstream,
View still fresh these 50 years.
Quarter mile away, ducks swam in shade,
Steady against insistent current.
They dived. I counted: one one thousand,
Two two thousand, up to thirty before they
Bobbed back to top and dived again.
Hilltop-low sun flooded my face,
Squinting against it watered eyes.
Turning, I gazed instead upstream,
Neutral water graying green,
Floating ice fleck dots like foam.

Once I laughed at muskrats here,
Saw hip-deep angler haul pike to net.
Spent tent nights sleeping, dawn awaking,
Walking through fresh fog to fish.
River I know well but never fully
Runs summer shallow, clear and warm.
Wade across it in old sneakers,
Cut-off jeans and passing thought that
Slick rocks afoot are snapping turtles.
Herons I have seen here, snipes, sandpipers,
Osprey and occasional eagle.
I visit so often river knows me,
Talks to me, soothes me, sends me back to
My adoptive family of trees, having
Touched creation's core and come away grounded.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
sarahk809
Dec. 14th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
Dude, can I be your agent?
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 14th, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC)
If it ever comes to that, sure.

I know that you know well the places I wrote about.
sahlah
Dec. 14th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
I have visited so often the river knows me,
Talks to me, soothes me, sends me back into trees
Feeling as if I have touched creation's core and
Come away grounded.


You are blessed by this friend.
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 14th, 2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
Whenever I get particularly uptight at work, I can walk to the river's edge inside of 10 minutes—but an area about a mile upstream is where I go to get grounded. Fifteen minutes there and I walk away calm.

Thank you for reading and commenting.
nodressrehersal
Dec. 14th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
So many lines to love - way too many to single one out. Stunningly beautiful, and grounding simply by reading.
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 14th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jamie. This was one of those times when I sat down at the keyboard with an idea, and the words just happened.
nodressrehersal
Dec. 15th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
Yeah, well, those words that just happened? You made them happen. It's called writing, and no, you weren't simply a vessel. That's all you up there.
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 15th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
That's kind of you to say, but:

When I sat down all I knew was that I was going to write about going down to the dikes off South 13th Street that day to unwind. I had no idea what I was going to write, and the parts about the trees came out of nowhere. Everything did, really.

I was just sitting there and the sentences were coming non-stop. I wasn't thinking about which words to use, or what was coming next, or anything that required any deliberation. The words just happened and I was in some sort of zone.

Granted, I went back to them and played around with the line breaks, fiddled with rhythm and sound, took lines out, rewrote others—all very hands-on, brains-and-ears kind of stuff. But for better or worse, the poem pretty much wrote itself. And I'm OK with that.
nodressrehersal
Dec. 15th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
Just because it wasn't torturous doesn't mean it wasn't "writing" and you're no less the craftsman simply because the original words flowed.

Maybe you think of The Muse as a completely separate essence that sort of takes over and uses you to create this kind of thing. I think of The Muse as a heightened-awareness version of our selves, as much a part of us as the fingers that hit the keys. We're just not always in sync, so we don't experience the "flow" as often as we could. That's my theory and I'm stickin' with it.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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