by Zoe Pollock
"August Walk" by Rosanna Warren:
The forest fungal, and a seethe of rain.
Indian pipes prod white, crooked fingers up through mulch,
boletus and inky caps glutton in the dank.
Lichen glues coral to moist granite.
We follow cleft hoofprints
of a bull moose, you striding ahead, I lagging;
you reading woods lore--ice-stripped bark, deer-nibble,
last winter's furry, matted fisher-cat spoor; I distracted,
musing. The soil springs at our tread, mossbanks
bristle with spores. Rainlight shivers down.
The felled giant sugar maple has broken out
in boles: baroque, all bulging eyes,
beaks, foreheads, claws, diseased
and dark as a mahogany Roman choir stall.
Off the moose path now, it's an old farm you seek:
rock piles from last century's sheepfolds;
inward-lapsing cellar hole;
a tumble where the chimney stood;
at the threshold, by the granite doorslab,
a cluster of weed-choked lilies sprouted from lilies
the farm wife planted before the Civil War.
The road is a soft cesarean scar in tufted grass.
Each rain-glossed leaf emits a stab of green.
Somewhere here survives the idea of home.
The poem was originally published in the Atlantic Monthly in 2002.