There were trees growing—

And an eagle eating a deer that first morning, And me stopping the car Exploding colors— fall in the North. Eagle getting nervous, taking off Deer opened, guts spilled, head bent back, no one around

There were trees growing…

Started the car and drove on, north and … there were trees … along the highway, and a lake Where the sun rose bright red Sandy shoreline, dunegrass Closed down vacation homes No one, but me But me, always alone at moments like these

I had left town late summer Stared down a bike path, into thick trees that were deep green, thinking about what was next Laying on my back in a field, knowing it was over, I had no home anymore Where would I go? It was hot then And the leaves dried and yellowed, and fell slowly, and collected on the ground in drifts And I drove north, to where the leaves the ferns the woods were already cold and brown Red and gold, red and gold, deep green, black trunks of a maple, so many trees I did not know— Too many plants to know, heading east and north to the great lakes I had no plan, but to go to Vermont

First night stopped off at a county park in Wisconsin, where I pulled in Eating bread and cheese with a knife, cutting board on a park bench A lamp burning made from a cork, a jar, oil, a wick Lighting only a foot or so around me of that first dark night And I fell asleep in my car Everything I owned, and still enough space to sleep in back I was planning I’d live in my tent

I woke early and headed north by east Passing the water with tides and islands Fresh water I went UP To the remote place Where my friend was living on a farm And I didn’t know anything, or why I had come I had come because I had to leave, I finally left There were bigger things than the place that I left

We went through the woods together, made tea Cooked in the kitchen Went down the old cellar, of the old barn, where they used to milk cows at the North Farm Went into the forest, down to the lake, up to Marquette where big things sit by the inland sea and rust away And people live in red brick buildings And there is a good co-op that smells like all co-ops And the town seems like it should be in Europe But instead it’s on the edge of a wilderness, the northwoods And at night I went out to the woods, far from the house, where I pitched my tent alone and cold along a fenceline, where I climbed in beneath a grove of plums— The field, the woods behind, were quiet and strange I had a waking dream, green light shone around me and I was frozen in place Wild turkeys came through at night

Trees had grown there, lauded highly by those who first cut them Others left behind, thick and low in those woods, that’s what was left, but in one place there were big trees On a rainy day we went through them, to a waterfall, and my breath was taken By their thick straight trunks, black By their yellow or red or gold leaves, wide above Pillars and a cathedral was here in these trees, there need be no sign Or any explanation We heard falls in the distance, went down, took a look She told me of the mushrooms on the trees I sat on a railing, watched the water, and a huge birch

On our way back the clouds came lower And we heard a shriek, or someone laughing But it was not that, It was twelve cranes in the mist, coming in just above the trees One for each moon of the year I saw red marks on their heads Their wide grey wings beat peacefully Long beaks, outstretched perfectly still Speaking to each other, and to us, above laughing whitefish falls

I didn’t want to leave that place, but I did I had to leave I left

I went through sault ste marie and into Canada Slept in a field behind trees, and down into New York I flipped on the radio and listened to the sound of geese over the speakers And the sounds of them above my car

It’s hard not to write significance into everything when you’re out looking around And have no real anchor to hold you down So I took some of these things to heart, and remembered them forever

Down the length of Lake Champlain, looking into the forests Of beech, oak, and others, I don’t know how I ended up on a mountain Where people let me sleep, for work I didn’t know then how to work, but tried anyway I slept in my car, drove around I went to Montpelier, got a job, moved into town, and worked all winter I had just enough money to leave again ~~ Along the edges we live, on the edges Because in the middle it taxes us too much To hear of those in cities— I see them when I go They can’t stop moving, no And neither can I My anxiety channeled in a search for some perfect place, with no home I knew and know the only way to find it is to stop But I cannot For reasons I don’t fully know

—Passing people, riding bikes years later With someone I knew from Nebraska, up into mountains and down the other side of California, We proved we could do Whatever we wanted to With respect and caution, But it’s hard

I’m shivering now, snow is falling, it’s cold outside in Maine I’m remembering times from another life I lived But it’s not, it’s a thread that keeps on unspooling But all I have left are memories, and the way I keep growing older I look out the door, snow blows in, melts on my face The low, brown land around me is covering up, covering up again in March

...There were trees growing

There are things I hold in mind—whatever they are that make me up That keep moving and shifting, though they’ve already happened They change even now as I go through them They are like— Like a deep grove I don’t tell anyone about Like a place no one else can go, but me

—Three pines in a clearing, Ennis Montana. Where a river flows around, shoring up banks —A beaver pond in the bitteroots Clear water, a slow current —A deaf woman who I startled, we sat and talked for an hour she told me about her life, death of her husband, their plan to live in the Bitterroot valley But he had died She could not hear She handed me an ipad so she could talk with me by the roar of the water where she often came to sit because it was one of the last things she could hear —A quartz chalice on a mountain top in Vermont Where I drank water with a metal dipper, looking down at the other side of the range, west —An old oak tree on a farm in Oregon There the fields flood in spring, and a small fire is made below a filbert tree —A cleft in a cañon in the desert in California Where we found a trickle of water That may have saved us I don’t know what we’d have done we stayed a few days by the greedy willows And burro went by in the evenings, in the mornings, checking for water, watching cottonwood leaves fall —and here in Maine, a small room in a barn on an island filled with dead flies, alone atop the building, high and alone where I sit to watch storms come in, drink tea, watch waves, and the birds come back and the birds come back —A grove of trees that I’ll never say anything about

….There were trees growing were trees growing There were trees growing, and a perfect stream