Tuesday, December 26, 2017

a hidden valley

The Higher Eslinger Hollow

years ago we chanced upon a high hollow
we didn’t know existed, 
a relatively flat valley,
maybe 100 yards by 30 yards,
with a little stream meandering down it,

and sections of cut log wall and remnants of chimney,
for years I didn’t return,
then I took my niece to it about 25 years ago,
to give her a taste of what her father and I loved to do,
to search out where people had been,
to fulfill his charge to me,
as he was slipping away,
to “help my daughter love the woods”

my wife and I returned to that hidden valley today,
the Great Fire had swept through here a year ago,
moving swiftly across the ground here,
and only pausing to work its will 
upon stumps and logs, and standing trunks,
I feared the remnants of house walls would have burned,
but they seem to have rotted before the fire,

the “path” we followed was often the remnant of the old sled road,
and on it bear scat, big scat, was very present,

evidence of a large bear for whom this valley is his stomping grounds,
a down trunk, near what might have been their spring,

scratched with the bear’s assertion of self, of proprietorship.

by Henry H. Walker
December 22, ’17

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