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Cara Benson
Cara Benson is a writer who lives in upstate New York.
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Barry, This is lovely! Cara
There is a pond at the heart of the woods down multiple hills, over more ridges than I care to count, from the church where I now live. When I think of it, the pond, from here at my home, I can feel its stillness, though of course it isn’t still, at all. Water, and certainly this backcountry collection of it, is in constant flux. What is it, then, that these pools become known as calming presences? I’ll drop the word womb here, also bodily percentages, where we come from and what we’re made of, but I’ve got other places to go in this post, so I’ll let them wash over us as I move on to how the pond ripples and drains through marsh grasses into runoff streams feeding the downslopes, all the while holding a relatively (isn’t everything) level surface. Enter geese. There’s a pair of them I’ve come to find regularly at the pond. Surely they’d been there before, Canadian geese are what birdwatchers would call “common” in North America, but I remember the first time I became acutely aware of these particular two. The afternoon was glumly overcast, and though I’ve hiked in all manner of weather, winter being a favorite, this day my mood matched the gray and I might well have preferred working out at the gym if that had been an option. (My YMCA closed the same day New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had his last workout at the gym, some 65 days ago and counting.) My house could sport an exercise class, but getting out every day is imperative, especially because I can, both physically and also safely in regard to virus-required social distancing, so I do. I layered up for the walk, stuffed my feet into boots, and sighed as I stepped out the door. It’s not immediately an easy path to get to the pond through the woods at the edge of the land surrounding the church; I have to walk through pricker bushes and pick my way carefully along and over a portion of the seemingly millions of miles of lichen-encrusted stone walls that crawl the landscape in the Northeast US. The stones wobble underfoot, and remnants of barbed wire fencing lie in wait in the crevices. It’s a tricky start when I head this direction, but it’s the most direct route to the good stuff, so it’s my most frequently used entry. Up and over and then crossing back again, mindful with each step not to trip nor trod the season’s burgeoning wildflowers, I made my way down to the first of many old lumbering roads, or just plain long ago abandoned dirt roads for early automobile travel, having first been horse routes. Before that, this was Mohican territory, but that deserves its own post (which is to come). This day, as I’ve said, I wasn’t in the best of spirits, so my attention was pulled inward, the way a tree encloses itself around a wound,... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
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May 17, 2020