Looking Back

This blog features poems by a native New Englander and octogenarian, as he looks back on the stomping grounds of his youth -- Chaffee's Woods, Kent Heights, Beach Pond, Escoheag, Wood River -- and his army days in Europe towards the end of WWII.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


[started in 1978, completed in 2011]

The early forest night is still
The snow drifts softly thru the pines
And hemlocks stand as sentinels
To guard and mutely shield from view
The cabin that I built of logs
That has become my oft time home
When solitude and need to think
Become the foremost needs in life.

But though the snow is very deep
And nearly hides the house from view
Its very depth provides the warmth
The peace and solitude long sought.
Where thoughts, and fantasies of thought
Develop into dreams that seem
So real – yet aren’t reality.
A life that I don’t care to live.

I sit in warmth, and comfort too
And gaze into a hickory fire
To contemplate the years ahead
Without a western girl to share
This simple, forest life with me
A life that I have known for years
And one that would the envy be
Of those who wish to be apart.

It’s here I’ve spun my own cocoon
Of sturdy logs of pine that shield
Me from the sweat of summer’s heat,
And helps to beat the winter cold.
But more importantly it hides
A world of care “this veil of tears,”
That often presses down and bears
So hard upon this native son.

I’ve watched for years, as seasons change
I’ve seen the cycle, from the spring
Through summer’s heat, to fall that’s filled
With yellows, reds, and rustic browns
Until the leaves come drifting down.
The chill before the winter’s storm
And then begins again the time
When depth of snow brings peace sublime.

Is she the one? The thought returns
As so it has at times before
But could she ever share this life
And come to know the pageantry
My forest shows, though now it lies
In winter’s shroud of virgin snow
That never lets a dreamer see
The secrets held beneath its depths.

But gradually the snow does melt,
And forest come alive once more,
The spring returns and starts to show
That green that reaches toward the sky
And warming sun. And soon we know
The beauty of it all is here
In forest, glades, and fields aglow
With types of flowers, some known, some not
A kind of medley of the wild.

Where evening brings the whip-poor-will
Down near the lake, its notes do swell.
A great horned owl gives forth its hoot
So all may hear its hunting call
While bats abound, and “skeeters” don’t
I no more hear their whining hum.
And coyotes up upon the hill
Send forth their howling, mournful cries.

Where cautious doe, with spotted fawn
Seek out a hiding place ‘fore dawn.
And turkeys, with their young do strut
So blithely past the cabin, where
A big black bear, so rarely seen
Has left his scat along the trail
And on occasion will a moose
Be seen by some – for Quabbin’s near.

I’ve seen bald eagles circling high
Above the Quabbin’s pristine shore
While sharp eyed fish hawks hover still
Above the stream before the plunge.
And blue jays with their raucous cries
Alert the world that something’s nigh.
I see the partridge with her brood
That live each year along the brook.

And later when the sun is low
I’ll wade into the silent stream
And tie a fly on leader long,
Then roll cast, watch it drift, then see
The rise, the rainbow’s flashing swirl.
He fights, the struggle lasting long
But e’re he even comes to net
I know what I will eat this night.

The sun is low, and going down
In all its splendor, reds and golds
That slowly turn a purple hue
Until the daylight fades away
And evening shadows start to play
Upon the stream in which I stand
And watch a black-capped chickadee
Go upside down on a willow tree.

I hear the sound of whistling wings
And see a pair of blacks glide in
To land, where silvery dragonflies
flit to and fro among the reeds.
I watch as trout in failing light
Jump one last time to take a nymph
Then hear the flapping of great wings
And know a heron’s just gone by.

While in the darkening shadows hear
A bittern’s short but mournful cry.
And then a fox’s warning yelp
Tells me he’s caught this human’s scent.
Now light is gone. I wade ashore
And hear the sounds of coming night.
It’s then I know that in my heart
Peace has come with the coming dark.

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