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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 2, June 2017
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Jenny Ward Angyal
Gibsonville, North Carolina, USA


Nowhere to Go

When I was a child, I could step out my front door and walk for miles through stony meadows scented with sweet fern. I could follow a pinewoods path that dampened every footfall, or I could linger in a grove where trillium and bloodroot bloomed against granite. Where Jack-in-the-pulpit preached each spring.

thrusting
through brambles
into the glade
at the forest's heart
this shaft of sun

Sometimes I visited the suburban homes of grade-school friends. They had clipped lawns, nice houses, modern kitchens, rooms full of toys. But even at the age of eight, I knew I could never live in such a place. I felt there was nowhere to go, although it took me decades to understand exactly what I meant.

always seeking
those secret places—
sunlit glens
where I lose myself
in the river's silken flow

Some sixty years later, I go out a different front door and walk through fields of burnished grasses bowing to the wind. Sparrows dart in and out of the hedgerows, and a blue butterfly no bigger than my thumbnail drifts across my path.

small lives
rustling in the meadow
where vetch
and sweetpea twine
my footprints vanish

I bushwhack along a tangled stream bank. The air rings with the silverbell voices of tiny frogs I cannot see. Red maples, flowering a month early this year, have already scattered clusters of rosy, winged seeds across the emerald moss, among the starry bluets.

I dip
two fingers in the creek . . .
baptize myself
in the name of stone and fern
and the white moth's wing

Later, as the sky deepens to indigo, I hear a barred owl calling outside, invisible but close. Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all? I peruse my email, find a form letter about climate change from one of my Senators. Vacuously, he agrees that the climate is always changing. Who cooks for you? He blathers on about economic growth and burdensome regulations. . . . But I wonder—who speaks for the owl, the maple, or for me? For the coral reef, the rain forest, the great white bear? Who speaks for life on this fragile planet, life that has nowhere else to go?

Coyote
slips into my clearing
in the dark of the moon
I hunker down
to howl with her

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