Special Guides » The Poetry Issue

The World, Underfoot

by

547853660-underbrush-oak-mixed-forest-sun-reflection.jpg

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

So this is what it must have felt like,
you say as you sink lithely,
not as in mud, off-balance and sliding,
but in decades of leaves, decomposed,
the scent of stirred spores, white mildew
wafting through air.
Musty, undisturbed
since Dad’s death, the ground feels so richly new.
Aging, Mother let the land go
wild as she by-passed
this stand of trees to fetch her morning mail
from the roadside box.

Now you stand in Eden’s dappled light,
lawn rake in hand, helping
her with the land, this earth so
thick under canopies
of magnolia, crepe myrtle,
long-leaf pine. You wonder
at the cushion of spongy ground,
this reality loam
of tortoise, armadillo, skunk, possum, jay.
These found Mother’s yard—
a forest path—
where Choctaw once stood
with heaven underfoot.