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Friday, July 6, 2012

"Walking Before Dark"

My friend and poet, MacKerrow Talcott, wrote this years ago and kindly shared it with me.  I have always loved the images evoked by her solitary stroll and am reminded of similar journeys and imaginings of my own.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Walking Before Dark

I don't know
who made this wall
in the middle of the woods.
Scofield, Weed, Tuttle, Bates
are on houses, hills, streets;
but there is no name on this wall
in the middle of the woods.
I won't call it my own.
I only want to follow it a ways.

The trees are see-through now.
Crows and owls can see
all the walls of New England.
I see that each stone must be
a milestone because the walls run
mile upon mile (like railroad ties,
telephone poles), and stone upon
stone.  When they were laid
did they spark and ring?

The walls were laid low
(as the trees once were)
a hundred or more years ago.
A deer, a Scofield girl, or even I
could jump over.  Weather will
lay the walls lower (haven't the trees
crashed into lean-to's and split rails),
though strong forces - dead weight
and vines - hold the stones together.

Here there is a clearing,
the stone wall surrounds gravestones.
I climb over the wall trying not
to disturb the stones, trying not
to turn one stone over.  I look
for names, birthdays, deathdays
but they have been scoured (as if by the sea).
I think the Scofield girl knows
when to gather skirts, flowers and stones.

I don't know who made this wall
in the middle of the woods.  If I follow
it a ways I might find a chimney
or a foundation also made of stone.
I wouldn't get lost following this wall,
but it's late now, it's cold now.
I'm heading home.

--MacKerrow Talcott

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