The Lingering Forest

The Myth of Trees

Boojum Tree (Idria columnaris), Baja Mexico

Old Woman Nature

BYGARY SNYDER

Old Woman Nature
naturally has a bag of bones
tucked away somewhere.
a whole room full of bones!

A scattering of hair and cartilage
bits in the woods.

A fox scat with hair and a tooth in it.
a shellmound
a bone flake in a streambank.

A purring cat, crunching
the mouse head first,
eating on down toward the tail–

The sweet old woman
calmly gathering firewood in the
moon . . .

Don’t be shocked,
She’s heating you some soup.

Gary Snyder, “Old Woman Nature” fromAxe Handles. Copyright © 1983 by Gary Snyder.

We tend to see Nature in a lovely pastoral landscape: pretty flowers, verdant meadows, things we might like to eat. There is the dark, the alien, the deeply frightening aspect of Nature though, and this is ours to love as well. Why…

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