I came upon a well in the woods,
a cattle well you covered over years
ago to protect raccoons and people too
who might be exploring this thicketed part
this branchy path where also walk
the ghosts of farmers
who kept these woods as fields before
they’d grown to brush, then pine
and hemlock trees five stories high.
Do they keep an eye on the old well?
Is it they who have moved the wooden
cover, making a way for unwary people
or pets to stub a toe or paw on stones
that open a way down to the cool
temptation of life everlasting that water
is? Well water, that is, with its placid
face that draws us in. Kith or kin
are we to them who have gone before
ever we were born? Who maintained
the spirit of the 100 acres given to crops
and animal grazing and once-on-a-time
wells where a beast could drink?
stewardship of the land we bought
when we were barely old enough
to grasp the meaning of being stewards
of what we had been given.
With age comes understanding.
With age comes sense of responsibility
to history held in the rings of the oak
in the whorls of pine crowned with cones
and even deeper in glacial stones
raked across this land in a distant time,
all of it passing through our hands
like water, as do the passing years …
And what we choose, our actions now
are the future for stewards who follow.
White paper. Black pen.
Ready? Let’s begin.
A fall day. Is that enough to say?
Do I need to list colors? Not Roy G. Biv
but fiery orange and wild pink
sharing branches of the same tree
even the same leaf,
and that’s the beginning.
Ready for a day of walking, looking
in order to really see and faithfully
deliver the Good News that life goes on
in spite of politics, including politics
falling at our feet each day in newspaper,
on television and now on line––
wars and threats and rumors of war
started by irresponsible men. And
women too, who get on the wagon
that climbs not to any star, but rolls
its way to hell on wheels of stone.
That given, remember the colors
of orange and pink that share
the veined space on the same leaf.
A phoebe rides the summer wind
on an outhanging branch of pine
while a fledgling phoebe appears
on the sill, its eye a bead beautiful
its feathered head like my grandson’s
head, freshly out of bed and all uncombed.
How long can deer predictably live
in a place where hunting is not allowed?
I scout the periphery of the field
where they appear from time to time
find traces of an old scrape under
a white pine tree––pellets, and grasses
bent by the weight of their big bodies
bedded down for nights under the stars.
Do deer sigh as people do with peace?
Do I anthropomorphize what only wants
appreciation through notice? I want
to relate to their hidden lives and so go
out on the limb of that pine to watch for
their approach through the darkening wood.
Emanuel Swedenborg was born Emanuel Swedberg on 29 January 1688, and died 29 March 1772. He was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian, and mystic. He is best known for his book on the afterlife, Heaven and Hell (1758).
Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. In 1741, at age 53, he entered into a spiritual phase in which he began to experience dreams and visions, beginning on Easter weekend of 6 April 1744. This culminated in a ‘spiritual awakening,’ after which he wrote books about what he had seen and heard.
(This information condensed from Wikipedia.)
Swedenborg’s Rules of Life are:
1. Often to read and meditate on the Word of God.
2. To submit everything to the will of Divine Providence.
3. To observe in everything a propriety of behavior, and to keep the conscience clear.
4. To discharge with fidelity the function of my employments, and to make myself in all things useful to society.
These nearly 250 years later, those simple rules still sound true and worthy of observance.