Thorpe Moeckel

Bartram’s Trail

To follow Bartram’s trail upstream, past Tugaloo,
to cross the Chattooga River at Earl’s Ford,
to go up the Warwoman Valley,
up past the cascades & bridalveils of Finney Creek,
up along the Continental Divide
between Rabun Bald & Hickory Knob,
is to crawl, is to hopscotch
between the doghobble and the yellowroot,
the rhododendron and the laurel, hand over hand,
inch by dirty, glistening inch;
to follow Bartram is to squirm, prostrate,
under the lattice-work of limb,
the umbrellaed variations of lanceolate,
the way the lungless slip like tongues
through the tiny, moss-flamed grottoes,
oblivious to four-legged jesuses
walking on the water’s white-lit roostertails;
to follow Bartram’s trail is to go
wet-socked, knee-weary & briar-inked,
is to limbo under shadows
mosaiced and three-quarter domed;
to follow Bartram as far as the end
is split, past the leastmost echo,
past the hiccup of wild mint and galax,
the azalea, the teaberry, the trailing arbutus;
to follow Bartram into the shade of the giant poplar,
across the intersection of trunk and root,
across the blighted chestnuts,
is to find the place
where no pattern goes unrepeated,
the place where the first ashes were spread.

Thorpe Moeckel
Bartram’s Trail is from Odd Botany, (Silverfish Review Press 2002).