Ceremonial

After dark, when the woods
turn back into a forest,
go stand under an umbrella
& let your prim column
of not-rain become
as anonymous as the others.
Count the drips until you lose
track of everything else.
Inhale the fertile aroma
of log-rot & truffle
as if it were the freshest tea.

Ignore the lightning flash,
what it does to the ground:
a stark here-&-now
of sticks & leaves into which
it no longer seems possible
to sink. Raise your face
to the false vault of ribs.

12 Comments


  1. Gosh. I love this. very much. “Your prim column of not-rain.” and I love the stark here-and-now and the false vault of ribs.

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    1. Hey, thanks. Since you’re someone who seems to know both forests and poetry exceptionally well, I’m really glad to hear this works for you.

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  2. Love this one, Dave. Not that I don’t love all the others but I have actually experienced all this but the truffles smell. If it’s like log rot, though, I may have.

    Back when I was a child, we used to take umbrellas and go barefoot outside to run in the rain. Now, it’s just to run from car to house while doing a slalom around puddles.
    When does it happen that rain turns into something to be feared because of lightening and not something to be happily experienced in one’s column of not-rain?

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    1. Hi Joan – Good to know this resonates with your experience. Truffles — well, I figure they have to be a component of the moist woods smell, since they account for such a large percentage of biomass. And it makes the woods seem slightly more exotic to use the word, of course.

      I’ve never been afraid of lightning; maybe I should be. I figure a forest is a pretty safe place to be during a thunderstorm. Closest strike I’ve seen was about 200 feet away – killed a white pine.

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  3. Great poem. I loved the last lines: Raise your face
    to the false vault of ribs.

    When I was a child I loved playing in the rain. Now, I’ve forgotten how to do that. And, I can add that I’m afraid of thunder/ lightning. But, I love the smell of forests, their earthy aroma will forever exist in my heart. Well done. Have a nice night.

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  4. Strong and sensual and full of a welcome stink. Works well on the voice too. Nice one.

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  5. Michelle, lucas – Thanks for your kind words. I’m getting the sense that the smells in this poem were pretty important, and I’m thinking maybe I should’ve mentioned the smell of ozone, too…

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  6. I like the poem’s narrow shape, which befits the “prim column” and the directive second person, somehow. I like the distinction between woods and forest that sets up the conflict between the participant and his or her surroundings so nicely. My favorite part is the “into which it no longer seems possible to sink.”

    Following a lightning flash, everything has the nerve to pretend it never happened.

    Reply

    1. Hi Peter – Thanks as always for being such an attentive reader.

      Reply

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