February 12, 2020 | By:
Northeast trees © David Crewes


By David Crews

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It’s such a wilderness

It surrounds us

she says

go through it, pull yourself to the center

open your heart to what the mind remembers

which too is a forgetting

Don’t you feel it

begin outside the body

once a voice

that speaks the language of all things

touched, caressed

held too close

that yearns for the words of a thousand mysteries

small hurts that come from loss

(she touches her arm)

how to live in such bewilderment?


There is a place I go to remember

when I forget there are

and have been

good souls who love me

It is simple really, she says

you give when you have and when you get

you get too much

May I touch

the lamb’s ear?

Is it true

hummingbirds come to the beebalm?

Will the honeybees

return?    (It hurts to love

this hard)   I have a tired heart


How far back must I travel

to see him

to hold him with my arms and say

what right do you have to my body?

I sense the loss

of all things—sunlight in grass

tiny bees that once I did not know were bees

gentle pollinators

giving, getting—

how the little birds would sing

and the other ones

scratching through undergrowth


How far back must I go

to love my body?    When the memory

of stone still speaks

Once, they called it the backlands

a hinterland of wilderness—

I have a body

she says

and no voice, the wilderness a voice

and no body

Is there no way to save it?

All streams flow 
                to the sea

how far back must I go

to love another’s body?


There is a loneliness, she says

and it leaves little room

to remember

Count me–
among the animals, their small committed

I heard


Calls, she says

(puts a hand to her face)

The forest receives exiles

solo natives

some call it the healing woods

too much longing

for a body to contain

I want to shatter every reflection I see

want my body to be free

of its weight, in water

I forgive you

you are loved


Void, voice, violence

solace in everything but the body

I want to ask for a departure

lone trek to the edge of things—

deep conifer forest

ground soft and cold, needles

tossed by prints of mustelids, foxes

the burrowings of sparrows

crisp fresh breath, air

and lung, quiet release

Here, I forget

In a dream

I see endless forest—

dark, damp

a far field at center

water dammed and slowed near the source

(The woods

were once filled with them)


I must believe

a voice outlives the body—

no sound, buzz

(she looks into the tree)

To love

she says

comes from the body

you give yourself first

you may not believe it

To hurt

in tenderness

love to violence    I’m sorry

you will never inhabit my body

   so love it

as it were your own


It is such a wilderness

this body

the body is a wilderness

bewilderment of the body

what is wild

in its being—to bewilder, to be

wild, willing

vulnerable to element

I cannot bring you safety

     but believe

I will never cause you harm

It is such a wilderness, they say



italicized lines from Jennifer S. Cheng, Lao Tzu, and Jane Mead

for INTONATION, a project with ARTS By The People (2020)


Night Sky © David Crewes

Night Sky © David Crews

Featured image © David Crews



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