“The Woods In Ithaca”
Kaya knew how to chart her trip, she traversed all beaten
Paths and journeyed beyond the boundary where the locals
Said strange sounds came from unknown brooks where
Shadows rubbed shoulders with each other, and merged
Into a gigantic darkness, unshaken, unseeing, still. Kaya
Followed a songbird’s trail, walked the path drawn by it
Sweeping rainbow wings across a forgotten territory, beyond
The four humps of a camel’s body. She went where she indeed
Heard the droning noise of the flat-bowl slowly grow quiet,
Wilt like mushrooms in the sun, fall as scattered debris
Of an old crashed plane. ‘Neath the town weather rooster she
Saw women with hair colored pink, sipping bitter coffee
Brewed in the square, men harrying with news that was old
Children doing the usual; nudge and fool each other, beg for
Money from elders. All of them tin dolls in a dumb charade.
Kaya knew and saw ‘em all, but heard less din, a calm over her.
The songbird flew on, led her to the camel’s eyes, recounted
All the tales it knew, of people, lives, pebble paths, lost loves.
Giant shadows cracked their roofing at the song and let rays
In; incoherent sounds from unknown brooks became a babble
Welcoming, happy. Clouds soared up inviting more light and
For the first time, Kaya saw all the humps together, a vision, in
Falling daylight: four domes of a citadel, quaint and outdated, a
Blurry green no Google Earth could capture on that maple brown.
Tree stumps truncated, eaten by oafish white ants roaming free
Post rains. And so much else rising from the forest lake, engulfing.
The songbird’s voice, her feathers of story layers, told of imagi-
Nations of centuries of sensations, a native relic unnoticed that
Winged past like whispers, like dreams, like sighs from catacombs
Dusty, dry riverbeds, long sandy stretches. Kaya’s was a trip to the
Moist mulch in dawn, the camel’s eyes resting on the glacial soil
With the knowledge that woods and skies and touches would be
Enriched, carved on its ancient forms of love and toil. On the bell
Towers, buildings, bars and homes. On its body, a form or a being
Called Kaya, land or life. The moody rooster meanwhile woke up
To announce a new day, eyes abounding in the light of a story just told.
Original Poem: “The Woods In New Jersey” by Robert Hass
Images from the Internet (Ithaca woods; Taughannock Falls)