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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Something New

A Sight Too Near

I see Ohio now.
Out of the forest it appears
this first day of December, dark brown
against the loominhg sky.

From where did it come?
This state from which I've hidden myself
away, here in my yard,
surrounded by the trees
that for three seasons have protected me;
have enabled my delusion that I am here,
in the middle of nowhere.

Where are the leaves?
Once bright green with excitement
then darkening to that quiet lazy August hue
that comes before the brilliant bronze of Autumn
captures what light it can hold on to.
From where did this come?
This moment when no leaves remain to protect me.
no walls of green to keep my sight close.

Must I truly be
part of a larger space
more than my own?

Now I see beyond my garden wall
beyond the forest
beyond the unseen imposing river.
Now there is more than what is mine.
Now I see Ohio.

I have nothing against Ohio. In fact if you must leave West Virginia, Ohio is a fine place to go. I buy my groceries in Ohio. It's where I watch movies, eat out or go to concerts. No, I don't mind Ohio,  I just don't want to see it from my back yard.  For years when I walked out across the field and gazed toward the north, I saw trees - plenty of big trees. Actually, in the summer months I mostly saw leaves, but in the winter it was trees, straight or crooked trunks overlapping my line of site with beige and gray vertical shapes disappearing into an ever thinning filigree of twigs as the trees touched the sky.  A few years ago, before the land was ours, it was timbered, leaving the fallen or broken trunks of trees not chosen yet still broken and destroyed by the dozer or by the falling of their brothers.

For awhile the area was an impenetrable tangle of stumps, brush and damaged trees.  That is when the abused woods became ours and that is when Jeff, with some help from his father began to rebuild this small area of forest.  He cleaned up and burned the fallen wood and grapevines, leaving undamaged saplings if he could find them.  There weren't many.  We then planted trees to replace those taken away. 

Now, the woods are cleaned up, new saplings planted, and I see something new.  When I look northward, I still see trees, but sparse, not the overlapping trunks that once closed in my view.  Now I see the gray hill across the Ohio River.  I see a whole other state.  I am looking into what was once the Northwest Territory, a place whose wilderness called settlers out of New England, promising wealth and new homes to those brave enough to face it. 
I don't want to see it, I like feeling alone up here on our hill. I like the illusion of solitude. Intrusions like the sound of four-wheelers, gun shots, or the sight of beer cans and candy wrappers are not welcome here and at first I am angry for Ohio to have intruded into my viewscape. If I can see that foreign hill, then can someone sitting over there using a powerful scope also see me? If someone can see me, then I'm no longer alone. My illusion, like the lost trees has been destroyed.
Of course, I will get used to it.  I'll probably even grow to like it. Besides, the trees will grow back.  Until then, I'll consider that perhaps I am not alone anywhere but in my own mind. I'll see Ohio for a few months and in the mornings to come I will welcome the intruder as, for a short season, we share my sun and my sky.

The soft gray at the back of the picture is Ohio. It doesn't look so bad in the photo.

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