Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Poets and Poems - Paul MacNeil

Paul MacNeil

under the lotus

- Paul MacNeil

A river flows through the lake. One tributary joins very slowly through a broad delta called Duck Cove. There is no channeled entrance to this cove -- no sandbar from a heavy current. A mile across, the marsh is filled with silt from little streams and organic muck at least deeper than a paddle's length. Methane bubbles jostle but don't alarm the frogs.

cupped in white --
water lily perfume

under the lotus --
salamander eggs
in jellied chains

I move the canoe through the outer screen of aquatic plants to an inner channel. Underwater, more plants wave in the current. Hiding there are schools of minnows, tails pointing back to the lake.

behind pickerelweed walls
paddling through flowers

canoe’s slow glide
a column of gnats parts
and re-forms

Grasses in the middle of the cove surround rocks and the remains of trees, giants of past centuries.

a snapping turtle
rests in the sun --
merganser leads her brood

Several permanent and many seasonal streams enter the cove from Barren and Benson Mountains. Taking a right fork of the channel leads to a stream from far up between the two. Again the current becomes unnoticeable as the shallows of the marsh give way to the bushes and trees of land. In the swampy woods, I walk past clumps of green rushes still depressed where deer rested beside the path. The ground rises a bit to a decaying clearing with the remains of a tarpaper shack. A retired railroad man, an accident victim, once lived here year-round. With only one arm, Louie wielded with good effect both an ax for his firewood and a shotgun for his poaching. The trail leads past a rusted stovepipe, elbow joint and cap toward the sound of moving water.

beyond the brook
pure tones of a hermit thrush
a flick of brown

Spencer Brook flows down the slope through moss-covered boulders, emerald, bathed by the water. Ferns fill the damp gullies entering on either side. It is not wide. I can usually cross it in one or two steps. The woods encroach and cover it well.

leaf canopy
the green light
of filtered sun

In the deepest pools I fish with the smallest hook in my box tipped with a little bit of earthworm. Instantly a brook trout attacks it. I lift a three-incher from the water. It wriggles off. The immature trout is beautiful with bright spots of color among its vertical, dark-blue bars. The bait isn't needed at all. Another strikes at the shine of the hook but is too small to be really hooked. A quick splash and right back to the spillway or in under the overhang. This small place is nursery for a race of wild trout; this water from the high mountainsides is purity itself. After climbing more than a half a mile with the brook, I find it forks several times -- each branch petering out within several dozen yards. A hunting trail continues on past the divide of the watercourse down to an unnamed deadwater bog and Indian Pond.

The Notch --
mountains come together
and change names

behind the mountains
more green ridges
becoming blue

*** ***

This haibun was first published in Modern Haiku, 29.1, 1998, slightly amended

photo credit: Yu Chang

If you would like to participate in this series, send a photo of yourself composing a poem or writing or a picture of a location where you enjoy writing, along with one of your poems (the type/genre of poem doesn't matter). This series will allow us to see the various locations that inspire us or where we go to write.


Adelaide said...

I'm so glad you posted this here, Paul, giving those of us who had not read this before a chance to read your beautiful descriptions of this beautiful and peaceful area.

all the best,

Terri L. French said...

Nicely done. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work, Paul.

snowbird said...

Paul, When I first read this it carried me back to my childhood visits with my Grandparents. Seeing it here again, brings back images and feelings whirling around together I can hardly find words to express. Thank you. Merrill

snowbird said...

And thanks to Yu Change for that wonderful photo. I can almost smell the lake. Yu always surprises with his angles. Many thanks. Merrill

Anonymous said...

I agree: Yu's photo of Paul adds another dimemension to the haibun. Both work together to convey a personal landscape.


eric l houck jr said...

beautiful composition . . . photo, prose n poetry.

P K Padhy said...

Dear Mr Paul,
I liked the Haibun which is full of poetic expressions and vivid imageries.As a Geologist, I reminisce my research work along the Ajay river, a tributary of the Ganges. The metaphors are of high literary quality.The photo is equally enchanting, musing the songs of nature.

P K Padhy, India

MLHarvey said...

Sorry, for coming so late to this.
Wonderful in its detail and storytelling. I feel as if I've been right there with you, experiencing your perfect place.
A great antidote for an overlong winter.
And the lovely photo, is just icing to the cake.