The hard wind tearing through the Nantahala Forest
is the big swift hand of Grandmother,
getting crumbs off the table, thoughtlessly,
readying for the next thing, washing clothes or serving soup.
In the hollow, under the cold wind, you are the crumb!
You may like it here, but you’re gone!
Loud and long the fierce winds howl through the deep forest.
She brushes Her hand, and ancient oaks crash, obedient to Her will.
The Rhododendron stands patient through eons and eons,
accustomed to the Grandmother’s whims.
Her brown and mossy stems meet and turn exquisitely,
solid, rooted, yet reaching for air,
a ballet on the brown forest floor.
Her leathery broad leaves are good for all winter,
each whorl of leaves a brilliant, fleeting thought.
They call this Rhododendron Hell:
Hell, Holle, the Holy, the One Who Lives Death.
Plants and animals die here, ecstatic
to feed Her, to become the next thing.
I, too, would die for Her, here at Her feet in the Nantahala Forest.
“Guten abend, guten Nacht,” sings Grandmother,
tucking me in as I dissolve into nutriment.
Here at Holle’s side, Her perfect whorls elegant,
I’d wash into dirt at the first icy rain, rejoin the family of all being,
sing the green songs of the ages.
Fierce winds tear through here, uprooting oaks.
I sleep at Her feet until whenever She needs me.
Rattler's Ford, Joyce Kilmer Forest
October 29, 1995