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I Had Not Known

September 21, 2018
I had not known

 I stepped onto the crumbling asphalt trail

and followed it to the local wood where I stepped inside

and as I walked I watched the trees give way

not to me but to each other

as they struggled to keep

the encroaching human blight at bay.


The silver birch lining the perimeter

against suburban sprawl

gave way to young stands of oak within

that formed the second line.

They, in turn, acceded to the elms of Dutch extraction,

which had built a treacherous abattis at their rotting feet

as once mighty frames hollowed and collapsed falling prey

to the Ophiostoma fungus tiny beetles left behind.


Then sloping toward the water's edge

the elms acquiesced to clusters of thirsty sycamore

securing the buckling banks of mossy stone and clay.

There with a rare glimpse I saw

that this is where the salamanders bore their young

and I felt myself grow rich inside

at discovering on my own, something new I had not known,

something that came not from a book, nor heaven forbid

the Web.


I lingered long, longer than I should

and in the fading light, the abattis exacted a toll.

The blood I spilled on its splintered limbs

fed a colony that day

and the scar that now dissects my calf

tells me not to stay away

but to return, tread lightly and bear my secrets well.

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