Caroline M. Mar


In the woods, the air is cool, damp.
I love the way the earth smells, decay
of old redwoods, soft hush
of some prehistoric morning. I remember

waking as a kid at camp after outside
overnights, those most exciting nights, how
my nose would itch with the dust
of the dirt beneath my sleeping bag.

I can’t ever breathe right. But here,
in the woods, cold even on a hot day
(and yes, I usually hate being cold)
the damp on my skin and in my lungs

is what it is supposed to be. My feet pad over
uneven dirt, the twining roots. Looking
up and down at the same time, unsteady
gait and sweeping gaze. We will do this

again, and again. Each time you will sigh
and smile at me. I will smile a little-kid smile
that must make my eyes look to you
something like the joyous color this rusty

pine-needled earth looks to me. Every time,
your same sweet exhale. You take my arm. Say,
This is how much I love you.
Is this love, to do the things we do not love

for the things we do?
Ferns unfurl like draperies. Trees
so tall I could lie down between their roots,
stare straight up in wonder

like the city kid I am.
I cannot name a single thing
beyond its common name.
Redwood. Fern. Leaf. Love.