State Forest


Every free man shall have the eyries of hawks, sparrowhawks, falcons, eagles and herons in his woods, and likewise honey found in his woods. . . .
XXXXXXXXXXXXXfrom The Charter of the Forest, 1217

We sit in the rain-charged brook, shoulder
to shoulder, dimply skin on skin, placing
and replacing stones, with each move fine-
tuning the tone and pitch just downstream,
adding our liquid notes to the blowdown
song of snags and cairns and easy flow.
This should go without saying: this music,
the grave and gravelly banks, bed of stacked
and tumbled rocks. Water with its memory
and prophecy of ice. Granite. Blood-
brown steel staining a concrete boulder
from last century’s bridge. July, and a maple
leaf already turned, red, a desperate raft.
A great blue heron stands upstream.
He shares this world with us. I close my eyes
to picture the pool where he wades:
there, a speckled trout pulses, balanced
in sunlight, waiting—startles too late
in the shadow quick-sprung from above:
I open my eyes to the splash; it’s the heron—
the fish in its beak—lifting off, pumping wide
and slaty wings, tucked neck and pushing—look!