The falls of the Sawkill River as seen from a trail at Montgomery Place
Yesterday I spent the day at Montgomery Place, a historic site with gorgeous and diverse landscapes. My day of soaking up the natural environment (shaped to various degrees by human hands) and contemplating our changing relationship with nature over time seemed to call for a poem on the topic.
My first instinct was to grab Second Space by Czeslaw Milosz, a title that survived my vicious weeding in spite of (or rather: because of) the fact that I'd never spent any time reading it. I'm sure three things contributed to this book's entrance into my book collection: author is a Nobel Laureate, the cover is gorgeous and evocative, and it was free/cheap. My memory of the cover (which features an illustration by Monika Klimowska) is what made me seek out Second Space. I did not find what I wanted within the volume and I'll admit that in my disappointment I contemplated including Second Space in our next donation to the Field Library Bookstore. I'm going to give Second Space a second chance, hoping that I'll be less impatient with it next time I decide to go through it.
My next course of action was to search the offerings on the Academy of American Poets website. This site is a wonderful resource. In addition to searching by title, author, and keyword, visitors can search the site's featured poems by theme, movement, and form. I came across this poem by Ravi Shankar1 (see him reading the poem), which fit the bill perfectly.
"Crossings" by Ravi Shankar
Between forest and field, a threshold"Crossings" was published in the chapbook Seamless Matter: Thirty Stills (2010).
like stepping from a cathedral into the street—
the quality of air alters, an eclipse lifts,
boundlessness opens, earth itself retextured
into weeds where woods once were.
Even planes of motion shift from vertical
navigation to horizontal quiescence:
there’s a standing invitation to lie back
as sky’s unpredictable theater proceeds.
Suspended in this ephemeral moment
after leaving a forest, before entering
a field, the nature of reality is revealed.