The ferns in the glades reminded me of pictures of the dinosaur era, when the giant ferns covered much of the land. Ferns here grow to immense size in the boggy, soggy ground. An orchid found shelter beneath these.
Can you imagine the first man to see this place? Or the first settlers in these high mountains, trying to traverse such tricky terrain?
What is this place of tropic ferns, unknown flowers and pines
shaped and acquiescent to the wind,
this place where no man has left his trace, or made his mark?
My feet sink, my legs up to my knees in muck and moss--
no easy travel here; careful steps on uneasy ground while above
the birds sing unconcerned, unfamiliar melodies that rise from hidden perches.
Beneath my feet tiny white blossoms, above clouds bloom and shift in a moody sky.
Here, in this thicket of tangled laurel, yew and fern,
a deer bedded last night. Her shape lingers
in broken skunk cabbage, and I sense that she is close by,
for this cursed bog to suck me under.
Through, under and around, a tiny creek
that surely springs from the roots and death
of these twisted yew pines gurgles over its blackened bed;
the scent of death and life is everywhere assaulting,
beckoning with pungent sweetness
beneath sun-gilded leaves,
beneath verdant ferns,
beneath my sodden feet.
I am the stranger here, the one thing that does not belong.
Long have I traveled to feel and smell and be of this mountain,
and in my own time
the smell of my death will mingle with the rotting leaves,
the decayed trees until at last
I am no more than the soil and the root
from which new life will spring.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.