Back to Nature
We took to the woods
to escape from our desks,
from our books and our podcasts,
too many reviews of arts and of letters:
from culture consumed directly
or through mediation of others.
We wanted the freshness of nature.
We walk in the woods,
we keep our eyes open
to take in the freshness of nature.
“Oh, look,” you call out,
“that squirrel with a nut in its mouth!
Sitting so still, so frozen in time –
it’s just like a statue,” you say.
“I love this blanket of leaves we wade through,
soft and deep – like a thick Persian carpet,”
I declare and continue,
“And the view up ahead, down the path,
it almost forms an allée
with its shimmering, delicate colors –
so like a Liebermann canvas!”
A bit farther on we must argue:
A stand of birches emerges and you
are reminded of Modersohn-Becker while I
find Kirchner more likely.
But that our dark,
outcropping boulders resemble the rounded mountains
of misty Ming dynasty art –
on that we agree.
The falling leaves waft gently down
one by one and all around:
“Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,”
Rilke’s lines waft through my head
– I can’t help quoting them –
and then from Joyce Kilmer:
“I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree!”
We laugh and amble on.
Feeling at home in the woods now
we scan our minds for other times
when life seemed to imitate art.
– At Scrabble with Rose and Dagmar,
a lamp hanging low overhead,
we scrutinize our letters
intent as Cézanne
and his Joueurs des Cartes
(but minus the pipes and the hats),
or could we have been instead
those lithographed Potato Eaters
imagined by Van Gogh?
– That photograph of Sarah
with Rishi in her lap:
she pulls his stockings off
and makes us see
Cassatt’s The Bath.
As we reach home the sun is setting.
“That's a sky like a Turner if ever I’ve seen one!”
you say, and it’s true.
We’d meant to find shapes,
and hadn’t expected
intervention of culture.
A fool’s errand perhaps,
at our age.
But still we return,
enriched all the more,
by our walk in the woods.
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