I Enter A Swamp As A Sacred Place

“Thoreau the “Patron Saint of Swamps” because he enjoyed being in them and writing about them said, “my temple is the swamp… When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most impenetrable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place, a sanctum sanctorum… I seemed to have reached a new world, so wild a place…far away from human society. What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs, if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings

Bald Cypress Knees, Waco, Texas

Stump

Curvewarped reflections of stars flowing across, down the full length of, round and round in meridians exact as the meridians of acupuncture. What are the stars but points in the body of God where we insert the healing needles of our terror and longing?
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Stump I dug up from the backyard.

It’s funny, you buy a little plant that’s on sale – ten cents on the dollar – somewhere and think “What the hell” and put it into a bed in the backyard without much thought, maybe in one under a window. The thing is in a tiny plastic pot – it doesn’t really deserve much thought.  A-and you don’t really like the thing… don’t like it at all – but still it grows. It grows and grows. It covers the window with odd-colored leaves and even more oddly colored blossoms. It grows until you forget what it was called and it doesn’t match any of the pictures in your gardening books. No wonder it was on sale.

It’s neglected and cut down and gets no water. But it still grows. Year after year it comes back. It always comes back.

Finally, this year, we decide we’ve had enough. It’s the plant, or us. Candy started… I came home from work and she had cut the plant off (again) and was trying to dig the stump and roots out. She wasn’t making much progress. I was too tired to help for very long – but I hunted around in the garage and found my sharpshooter. A sharpshooter is a kind of long and rectangular, small, but heavy shovel. It has a sharpened front edge and is used to cut underground roots – sometimes by literally throwing the thing down into a hole you’ve dug…. I was able to hack through a couple smallish ones before I had to give up.

The next day, Nick came over and between watching basketball games (for this is truly a great time of year… March Madness and all) we went out in the back yard and took turns digging and chopping with the sharpshooter, a big shovel, and a pry bar.

Finally, I decided there were some serious roots running down deep that needed more power to defeat. I brought out a small chain saw and started shoving the blade down into the spaces we dug out. That did the trick. There was one deep tap root and once the chain saw chewed through that – the whole thing came out. I lifted it up and heaved it over the fence, across the alley, and down to the creek.

No wonder the damn thing had been on sale.

In the Pines

“Black girl, black girl, don’t lie to me

Where did you stay last night?

I stayed in the pines where the sun never shines

And shivered when the cold wind blows”

Grove of Pine Trees, Avery Island Louisiana (click to enlarge)

My husband was a railroad man

killed a mile and a half from here

his head was found in a driving wheel

and his body hasn’t never been found

A Simple Song That Lives Beyond Time

Black girl, black girl where will you go?

I’m going where the cold wind blows

You called me to weep and you called me to moan

and you called me

to leave my home