In the Congaree
I’m home. I’m not home. I’m on the road or
Off it, briefly. I’ve been out of place. I’ve been
Taking familiar walks. I like the boardwalk. I like
The swamp. I feel ill at ease. I feel fine.
As August ends, I’m thick and cold. As I circle
Above a tide of cypress knees, of webs,
Fallen trunks and leaves, I gather out
The mud a mossy repose. A violent mist.
A green allure. I have spoken into
A dead and standing pool of air, where,
In its center, a spider hangs. I can hear myself
Moving, notes taken on paper, on
My feet, I stop and that makes a sound.
I look out into what feels ancient. It
Doesn’t seem old. My voice is spun.
I’m rolling out myself last rung by rung.
I pinned my eye to the base of a loblolly pine,
And rose, much higher than I would
Suppose. I know everything already. I have to
Ask people questions. All of my relatives
Are famous. There are so many people dead.
Look at these trees. They’re shattered in pieces.
They’re tall and full. I look forward, steadily,
At the moss grown high as the flood.
Copyright © 2016 by Samuel Amadon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 21, 2016, this poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.