‘GODS OF THE NIGHT: 15 Woodland Thoughts’

For Rebecca Skeen-Webb (1952-2002)


Here in the quiet provinces,
Wars pass via headlines, worrying us
Solid citizens even from this distance with
          their loud report.
We in the quiet country have the luxury of
Worry, second cousin to fear,
And the pleasure of taking our conscience
Out for a strenuous walk, choosing this side
          or that for the exercise of our


I see my forehead in the mirror, scene of
          so many dustups and border wars,
Internecine conflict and civil war, feuds and
Blood oaths. We are showtime, you and I,
All the world's a stage and in my forehead
I the playwright.


Moths, large & small, beat
their wings against the window screen — 'tick!'
'tick-tick!' — mad for the God of Light.


It is time to surrender to 
The God of Dreams, who in
His misterioso castle, which floats
Upon a rock above the river Tiburon
and has only windows, no doors

Schemes and plots tonight's entertainment.


I have died and been killed and been
Resurrected time after time out of mind.
The distant dog baying into the night two valleys over
Calls to me, his mother. I do not answer
For we were separated in a flood in ancient Egypt,
one more cruelty by the God of the Nile

And I grieve still the loss.


I am told, I am taught, to put aside my
grief. In this exultant woodland silence I
Can barely see it, how I put the corpse of my
Friend in my back pocket and stroll on. How
One day, I will set her down beside the trail
on a rock warmed by sun.
Its lichen tracks a green hieroglyphic, pointing
which way to go on.


The fly, big & black as a 
fresh raisin, stares
at itself in the mirror

Trying to recall its face, its
Original face.


I am sure a hundred, two hundred
Are being spoken tonight in the
Appalachian woodlands, out past the
Boundary lines, in the deepest dark where
Indian bones mingle with cats' jaws and time
Leaves no trail but for the way it imprints the
darkness with the sound of the yawning
of the Earth, sleeping and waking, sleeping and
Waking, for time out of mind.


I hear you and know this — you are
Not alone. In the darkness, in the fitful
Aeons, no matter how black the night, your
Upraised call can be heard, over oceans, over
Peaks, it comes to me clear as a bell,
Ringing in the mountain morning.


A strange call in the night, perhaps a
God from a forgotten age, migrating


I am in love with you even if I do not
Understand you, who like some savage on an undisclosed island
Points a spear to my throat, requests an incantation.
This I can deliver.

So we are brothers at last, have
found one another after the long haul. All
was not lost, after all.


Yes, you say, but love despite it many qualities
Is not enough. Not enough. So once again
We huddle in our beds, dreaming up our mothers
from their crypts, to come suckle us back to life

Or to remind us how to look again with wonder and
delight at the sun, tossed branch to branch
At suppertime.


Even the God of Hope leaves us wanting,
Leaves those of us who duck and cover in
the Collective, the great Ur of longing,
in Jung's impersonal grand cadence, alone in the night.

Into which we cast our delusions,
hoping they come back to us as unexpected


I do not understand you finally say
And that is enough, that is good. That is the
start. I saw Buddha tonight, back turned
Sitting on a rock at sunset. I did not disturb him
nor sit with him. He may still be there,
He may be gone.


I hear no more of the night,
These woods are still for miles. A great, cool
ocean of air laps from one side of the valley
To the other.

~ Cottage 3, Capon Springs & Farms, West Virginia | april2002

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Errol Hess says:

Yes! Especially 1, 5, 8 and 12. Did you make it to Ice Mountain?

Douglas Imbrogno says:

I did not. I believe that was the place written about in Harpers in the late 19th century where one of the last great panthers were caught — 9-feet-long if I recall the article correctly. Saw it in the library at Capon Springs Resort out that way.

Errol Hess says:

Ice Mt. is now controlled by WVA Nature Conservancy. In the 19th century it was across the stream from resorts who used the perpetual ice from its side for cold drinks, etc. When I was last there 20 some years ago thermometers at its base vents registered temperatures in the mid 30s in summertime. And it still has ice age flora.

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