During some freewriting with my students yesterday (I always write with them — do you?), I started to write this poem about a huge boulder that I remembered from my neighborhood. It was always this odd thing — something left over from the Ice Age that became an eerie play structure for us as kids. There was this deep crevasse or split in the rock, too, which was sort of scary because of the creatures and insects that lived in it. Of course, we couldn’t resist going down into it.
Who could say
where it had come from:
Perhaps it had been dragged there by ice
or regurgitated by roaming dinosaurs
or tossed aside by giants.
It was so much older than us
with stories all of its own
that it had no intention of ever revealing.
All we knew was:
it was there:
a boulder, a rock, a mountain
almost the size of a small house
plunked down into the grove of trees of our neighborhood
as unexpected as ice cream for breakfast.
With sharp footholds for ladders
and soft moss for seats
and a deep crevasse that had been cut by time itself
which seemed to descend down forever into darkness,
the Boulder/Rock/Mountain was our immovable treehouse
luring us in with shadows and spiders and the unknown
down into a place that kept more secrets than I would ever know.
Thick maple and pine and oak trees loomed overhead,
casting a green curtain that kept us cool
in the insufferable months of August
and dry in the rainy Aprils
but never quite safe.
Awake before the others, always,
I’d climb the top of the sentry post
to scan the world
before heading down into the depths of the rips in the seam
toward the unknown,
plunging into my imagination for adventure.
Peace (in the poems),