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The Word-Hedge

Winter 2015 - Vol. 57, No. 1

 

This poem appears in the Winter 2015 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.


 

It prods and then resists me, this memory—
Remember crossing fens
And dales
And meadows tossing with poppies and wrens
Toward a great tree?
Its massive limbs cradling
Skulls and nightingales
That sang of all that was
And was to be.
These I dimly see—
In long wind-flattened grass
The apples lay,
A long-haired lass
At play—
But long since the winds and rains have blown
And driven
Me past lakes and hills unknown.
This early tree I’ve striven
To portray—
Yet say all I can say
My words bristle crossly like a hedge
And will not let me back there.
The word-hedge stands
Anciently thick with thorn,
With common bud and bird and horn
That in the sighing mist
Insist
That they
Are what I’m trying to say,
That they in my dark heart have hung
Tapestries from when the world was young.
I cannot fit my knowing through
Into that land that I once knew.