Friday, June 27, 2008

In the Poetic Forest

The Bashō Trees of Acadia

Northern forests in the east
are littered with brief poems
written in white bark code
on curled scrolls peeled
from paper birches.
Each is a secret haiku
scripted in dashes to read
like Braille with your fingertips.
I retrieve one scrap hidden
in the duff by Jordan Pond,
ponder its lines embossed
on papyrus, deciphering:

Mist lifts. Loon surfaces.
Bold tremolos echo through
cold light of wildness.


While the above poem was written in Maine's Acadia National Park, I remain in Acadia -- up in the Canadian portion of that land once widely settled by the French who were later ousted from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia when the British took control. Many of the deported French ended up in Louisiana and became known as Cajuns and were immortalized in Longfellow's poem "Evangeline."

Acadia is a land of birches, firs and granite...a magical land. And today, a special treat: the ferry across the Bay of Fundy from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. Fundy! Site of the world's greatest tides -- a shift from low to high (or high to low!) up to 48 feet. Such a tremendous tide that you can stand at water's edge and watch the water rise to your feet or ebb away minute by minute. But today, a different view: from atop the bay's great waters on the ferry boat Princess of Acadia.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Another Vagabond Summer

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On Sterling Pond

Who first called it fair?
Who first named it haven?
How long ago were the thoughts
first twinned in the minds of mapmakers?

I have it on good authority
from season’s first dragonfly
along Ontario: It was a pair of them.
The gander saw her fair;
the hen had found in him a haven
for seven goslings to be raised
on a sterling—his idea—pond,
her word for their home of reeds.
Since the end of the last Ice Age,
its great glacial retreat,
Canada geese have claimed
these south shore marshes.
Despite red-tailed hawk visions,
shadows of turkey vultures,
the arrival of man, me,
this species thrives.

Tonight I sleep in Fair Haven
on the bluff above Sterling Pond,
in the company of Branta canadensis.
Tonight I dream the voice of the goose
is yet heard in the wetlands
eight thousand generations later.
I dream the birds’ long aquatic history
and lore of this place on the charts. Again,
I make their fair, sterling acquaintance.
Tonight I swim in protected waters.
Summer season's greetings, friends and visitors.
With Fair Haven State Park in New York already a memory,
I head across Lake Champlain into Vermont today,
a green northern kingdom of rugged mountains.