Coming back home after 25 years is a strange and wonderful experience. We recently moved back to one of the most beautiful places in the country – East Tennessee. The mountains, rivers – oh the landscape – is awe-inspiring. One thing that constantly grabs my attention is how much I took the natural beauty for granted when I grew up here. Don’t misunderstand, I spent as much time as I possibly could out in the woods, fields, rivers and lakes growing up. What I took for granted was that they would always be here.
A few days ago I drove by a corn field that I used to hike through to get to the mountains. It was part of a farm and I got to know the farmer. In fact I spent a lot of time on his porch, hearing stories – mostly about the way the land had been when he was a boy growing up there. The stories were always told the way old men tell stories, with lots of names and details of things like they had been.
After the corn was harvested the stalks would be broken and bent over, hanging brown. They were home to quail and other animals. Sometimes they stirred when I walked through. They have a special place in my memory and that is the only place they exist now.
The other day I drove by that field and it is gone – and then I found this poem. It sums things up I think.
The field is gone, buried beneath future
Rubble of convenience and commerce.
Stalks that once drew bird and game
Draw gamers and the budget minded.
It wearies a memory to replace
What is here with what once was.
Natural overcome, replaced with synthetic.
Creation’s groaning is nearly audible.
I have no right to chatter,
It was a borrowed field.
The farmer passed on his debts.
Someone must pay. So the land and memory do.
*poem published on http://longexposuremagazine.com/