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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/7/21

The unwelcoming place followed by a reflection

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I decided to walk on the opposite side of the valley
On a road I have passed but never explored.
I parked the car after the last farm
And began walking.

Now there were just rustic houses, secluded and
Far apart with No Trespassing signs on the left side.
Soon I passed a sign that said Class 4 Public Road Begins.
The road was muddy and potholed.

But the woods was green with new spring growth
And for a while I was happy enough.
If I saw someone I was prepared to explain
Honestly: "I am from the other side of the valley."

And when they asked why I was there I would say:
"I was bored walking near where I live." But I
Was no longer seduced by the novelty of this place.
The road grew smaller and smaller and soon

There were No Trespassing signs on both sides of the road.
It occurred to me that this road was going to dead end
Far up in a hollow where no one lived.
Also there were no birds singing.

I began to feel lonely. I imagined
If I met someone now that they
Would be cold and suspicious. And then
I began to worry if my car was safe.

But I didn't turn around until I came to a cable
Blocking my way with a sign hanging from the middle --
Keep Out. On the other side of the cable was
What appeared to be an old mill pond.

Beyond that, through the trees, were meadows.
Deep in the woods, out of bounds,
Was a bird singing its evening song.
I turned around. There was nothing for me here.



This poem accurately describes an actual walk I took. The atmosphere or feeling tone of this walk was what I was most intent on capturing here, but that atmosphere was infused in the literal landscape, for example, the narrowing of the poorly maintained "class 4" road, the seclusion of and distance between the houses, as if to underscore the lack of community. (In a place where the atmosphere was uplifting, the spacing of the houses might be interpreted as typical of the independent spirit of rural Vermonters but on this road it felt like the houses were isolated and isolating.) And, there was the absence of birdsong. When my friend read this, he responded: ". . .and no birds sang. One of the saddest ideas/lines in all the world." This was not a metaphor. If it was it would have been cliche! No, there really were no birds singing! Another interesting detail that I didn't include in this poem is, I was hyper-aware of how poor my eyesight was and my hearing. So even my senses were closing in. Was it my moodiness that was being projected on a place that was already depressed, or was it a depressing place that was affecting my mood? I really can't say, but in writing this poem I want to invite that question.

(Article changed on May 07, 2021 at 9:08 PM EDT)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of five nonfiction books, three collections of poetry, "Children to the Mountain", "The Last recurrent Dream" (Two Plum Press), "Conversations with Poetry (coauthored with Tom Cowan), and (more...)

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