Ode to a Forest by Bob Supernant3 min read

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Published in Ricepaper 17.3/17.4

Ode to a Forest
by Bob Supernant

It wasn’t much of a farm as farms go
Small, yet rich with life that the city could never give
Motherless since birth I knew I was alone
An orphan child wrapped in shrouds of disappointment
Came there at five
From another broken home
Hoping for some shred of security
But I soon found out I was a hired hand
My innocence belaboured – doing chores to ‘earn my keep’

It wasn’t much of a forest as forests go
Barely five acres of spruce and aspen poplar mixed by some unseen hand
But a place ever resplendent in the garments of the four seasons
Patiently I would wait for the bluebells to blossom after the snow thawed
Then to pick succulent wild strawberries in June
Wormy raspberries in July
Sour gooseberries in August
I was overjoyed when the only tiger lily for miles
Showed it’s harvest moon face in September
Giving me one last colorful delight before the snows of October
And yes I did walk those crisp mornings
Crunching fresh snow
Adding my treaded tracks to those of birds, squirrels and raccoons
How the hoarfrost was magnificent some sunny mornings
Enrobing the trees with the sparkle of countless diamonds

It wasn’t much of a playground as playgrounds go
Yet as big as the world could be, in a child’s eyes
As I played in the light of northern seasons
Becoming chief, or cowboy, or hockey star on the frozen pond
Always hero of the day
There I was lover of all that greened and sang and cocooned, then passed away
Discovering intimacy, not found with family or friends

It was to you that I would go, seeking solace
From the oppression, the great dysfunction of my foster family
Mistreatment that sometimes fell as blows

Your birds sang soothing lullabies
Your large limbed trees cradled my stinging back
Your grassy glades absorbed my humiliation
In so many years I never shared my troubles with human ears
But you, my forest knew
Listening to my sobbing silence
Buoying my loneliness above despair

It was not much of a town as towns go
But far enough away that I had to say goodbye
To you
Five angry people crammed into a tiny house on a muddy avenue
Nowhere to go but the streets, the pool hall, or the school gym
Too different to fit in
No where to walk, no money, few friends
Nowhere to go but further inside the shell
I didn’t know how much I missed you
As my aloneness sunk into despair

One day I did return, only a short time ago
Now a man – happier- more self-forgiving
But you had changed
Falling victim to the hamburger machine grinding up this planet
Overrun by cows, chewing all leaf within reach
Hooves mincing your ground
Not a bluebell or strawberry in sight
Your magic gone, except in a child’s memories
I came to say hello but it became another goodbye
Neither of us will be the same
But I know you loved that little boy
As I am beginning to, now.

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