Mississippi Clear-cut, Take 1

Clear-cut in Oxford, MS area (photo taken by Jman)

Clear-cut in Oxford, MS area (photo taken by Jman)

Clear-cut in Mississippi, Take 1

I can’t help but be reminded
that it still happens.
If I leave home and go anywhere,
I see this.

And, they say it’s worse than ever
now.

These clearcuts
if they could talk,
would shape slack-jawed
syllables…and
circle like vultures
over our heads.

And who is HE
that takes so much
and leaves so little behind?

I want to understand HIM
because HE is human, too:

a father maybe,
a brother,
and of course, a son.

If these forests could talk,
desperation would only
wheeze
from between their clenched teeth,
red clay frothing
from their mouths
and staining the corners.

Desperation is what I see, too…
tangled in the tips of thin and bare, half-dead trees
twisted in misunderstanding.

Who could rape the land
and call that a living?

Only that HE had been
chopped down
that deep part of HIM
at some point?

Is it safe to say that
how we treat ourselves,
we treat the land?

…finding our pain
in the reflection
of what’s around us
and
reinvigorating that pain
with each cutting down?

A proposal then:
Can we not pay HIM
instead
to plant the forest
HE must love
and surely HE depends on?

…plant hardwoods and softwoods…
and let it all come clamoring back
from the tired soil below?

And then, we can all
watch THEM grow
just like the determined saplings
of HIS own potential?

Can we raise a man
like one of those old-growth trees?
And will he see his reflection there,
healed and renewed?

The cornfields of Iowa
are the only rival
to the dizzying stands of
the monotonous Mississippi pine trees.

They no longer hear songbirds
up there,
while we no longer
can sit by a stream
or an old-growth oak tree.

And yet, there is no other way to
shelter our soul from the
absurdity
of our current situation.

Can we one day
offer our great grandchildren
a forest,
an old-growth forest,
that would sing its own
hymnals
and pluck our own heart-strings?

There, in that place,
they will learn the trees’ names again,
like a living story
and refer to them often…

…because their lives
will depend on it…

And the trees
will call out the children’s names, as well,
in a language
they would begin to recall…

…because their lives
will depend
on being able
to whisper,
and then plant a seed
in the innermost
chamber
of the human heart
so that they could begin
to remember.

By Lindsay Wilson, February 14, 2015 ~ The first in a series of poems dedicated to what is left of the Mississippi forests.  This poem was inspired by the reforestation project in Loess Plateau in China, headed by John Liu.  The Chinese government actually paid people to restore their land and recover it from severe degradation and soil erosion.

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