Marshal Brook Fire Road
Dank fens of cedar; hemlock-branches gray
With trees and trail of mosses, wringing-wet;
Beds of the black pitchpine in dead leaves set
Whose wasted red has wasted to white away;
Remnants of rain and droppings of decay, —
Why hold ye so my heart, nor dimly let
Through your deep leaves the light of yesterday,
The faded glimmer of a sunshine set?
Is it that in your darkness, shut from strife,
The bread of tears becomes the bread of life?
Far from the roar of day, beneath your boughs
Fresh griefs beat tranquilly, and loves and vows
Grow green in your gray shadows, dearer far
Even than all lovely lights and roses are?
Dank fens of cedar; hemlock-branches gray, by Frederick Goddard Tuckerman
Looking over the notes on this poet, I was totally drawn in by the opening line; "Frederick Goddard Tuckerman published only one book of poetry during his lifetime, and it was a commercial and critical failure."
As a child I grew up in the city and spent most of my time playing in alleys. Sometimes the "city boy" in me will come out, such as when I'm swimming in a lake or pond and get creeped out by what might be under the water. Or during walks like the one I had tonight, when I'm in some quiet woods as evening comes on. I think one effect of all the moss carpeting the ground so thickly is a certain acoustical dampening, creating a peculiar hush that started to feel eerie as I moved further and further away from the road. There are some transect lines from old bird studies running off into the woods, and I followed one for a bit towards the ray of sunlight slanting through the trees. Crouching there taking photos it felt like anything might have emerged from those trees, and I had to do a bit of mental gymnastics to remind myself that I had been here many times before and there was nothing to fear. Heading back to the car I actually got on the phone and called my brother, partly because we hadn't talked in awhile, and partly as a grounding exercise. At least if something went wrong there would be somebody to hear my piteous screams.
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