by Laura Parker Roerden
All day long I had lain in the grass and waited for the sun
to reach the clearing, though it never did come. The dew
from the morning had left my hair damp to the touch;
my heart aching for something I had never expected to miss.
I knew these woods to be vernal wetlands, but I had forgotten
just how much shade can be thrown by the trees that
surround it. Yet all it takes is an unwillingness to thwuck in
the muck, past the skunk cabbages and stinging nettle to
miss out on the thicket of grass, soft like a bed, a cool reprieve
from the summer sun. As a child, this spot had been where I’d
have picnics in the daisies and bluettes, which swayed so low to
the ground as if fighting off sleep. I knew a rock that acted
like a sun dial and pointed at noon to a secret location of lady
slippers–fragile pink moccasins–that I could imagine fairies
wore to silence their footsteps like pine needles buffeted mine.
The edges of the field were where the remnants of a long ago
stone wall had fallen, once marking a pasture or home site, and
later simply held space in a child’s imagination, a canvass
of clouds, whose angle of reflected light told her the time.
The time is late now, so I have to go. In the clearing today
stands a house, built by my brother. He had to go too,
taking his place among the moss in a family cemetery with my
parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
But I visit my brother in the clearing when I can
by taking that walk into the dank, smoldering woods and
listening as birds call out my arrival as if nothing has changed.
Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd.