By Claire Bateman
Featured Image: Trees by Maurice Prendergast 1918
Everywhere in town you hear: “The forest’s on the move again”— our forest!
Not ours, exactly,
but we feel it to be so, since its visitation ensnares our limbs
as, at every crosswalk, neighbors duck and flinch, weaving carefully through, apparently,
nothing at all—
forgive me, I’ve neglected to describe our forest’s unparalleled clarity
from pine-tips to underbrush, its streams, its spiders,
its (presumably) spotted fawns tremulous, poised for flight— “Our transparent forest,”
I should have said!
Impossible, of course,
to hide, to hunt, to lose one’s way!
Thus, we are reduced
to uneasy picnics in a vitreous shade not wholly without shimmer.
Then, just as we’ve begun to settle in, discerning where to place our feet, grope for berries,
seek out the heaviness of honeycomb, with a rustle and groan,
having abandoned us to elsewhere bear
its rough and leafy patronage, its boughs of varying heft,
which our clumsy passings-through had forced back till they rebounded, scoring our faces
even as they sprinkled us with resin-dew
(or, in that woods’ itinerant winter, mild scatterings of unseen snow).
Originally appeared in NOR 7