Before all these houses and their shrubs,
at the end of the stretch of hardwoods,
there was a stand of white pines
edging the big bottom field by the river.
I would save going there,
wait until the morning had warmed a little,
until the sun had worked all the way to the forest floor,
until the frost-latch on the dead leaves,
those brown oak leaves still clinging,
had released and the ones that were going to fall that day
Then I’d walk to the chapel of the pines,
carpeted with years of the blonde needles
that silenced my walking.
Their trunks were grey, green, blue, lichen-pocked,
or maybe it was a moss.
There were long white tear streaks of resin
from the knot holes.
At the base of a few trunks were swirled nests
that looked like something had slept there.
I would stand silent in that vestibule
to the flat, corn-growing bottom land,
the workland of corn planting and corn cutting,
that earning, feeding land
outside the shade of the quiet, quiet trees
in the river’s bend.
by Michael Chitwood