The walks I take through wooded New England
give me close hours to visit an old friend.
I follow loose trails with no stick or hat
while other activities I suspend.
Thoreau, my guide, takes me in back country
to places I would never think to go.
Great distance we walk quiet and alone,
with him there is no walking very slow.
We start by eating green beans he has grown
beside his cabin, hoeing them in spring.
He has put such thought into their sowing.
He would not have me eat another thing.
His sacred green lake on the edge of forest
lies there for us to see our reflections,
before the efforts of our day might ruin
the raw fresh nature of our inspections.
The greening of spring brings such ecstasy
when searching for this giving force of life.
Looking in winter, the snow is too much–
the ice and wind give hikers extra grief.
He likes to works indoors when it gets cold.
At table with pen and ink beside him
he smooths out details of a winter day
and listens for that voice stronger than wind.
The frogs, the hylas, he has named them all.
These pets to him that need no extra care
watch solemnly as we saunter past them.
He tells me of old mythos everywhere.
The river close, where we can jump and swim,
has wild blossoms covering mossy banks.
We skip smooth stones and watch the dragonflies,
and row his wooden boat made of pine planks.
Is anything alive he doesn’t see?
His knowledge of flowers and native trees
plus earnest study of nature’s cycles,
the study of forest gives him such ease.
We spend two hours to view a single flower,
and spend the evening sitting by fire
to discuss the impact of it on hearts,
and wonder if this will ever inspire
Simplicity–to better see our soul.
Uncluttered paths beyond the Concord limits
pure as afternoon skies of vermillion,
if even for an hour I can visit.
We watch large clouds shape unsuspectingly.
His words lift off paper and give thoughts flight
beyond those of wind blowing, ice dripping,
and fruit picking, filling me with delight.
He urges a return to his Walden
in July, when summer is at its tops,
when all the lovely forest growth is best,
before fall’s colored leaves begin to drop.
A refill for my memory, I find
in his word sketches, treasured in journals,
when all about the city life is sour
and my mind is seeking the eternal.