Greylock Glen

yarrow+ ferns +vetch
+++clamber over stone foundations
++++++++of the vanished cabins
++++++++of the extraordinarily stubborn

who tried to farm steep slopes
+++who built beside quick brooks

but one day had enough
+++said goodbye to cobblestone fields
+++++++++++to the gnat cloud
+++++++++++& clenched water lily
+++++++++++the still pond back in the trees

++++goodbye+ ragweed+ goldenrod+ aster
++++++floral calendar expiring in a jar
++++++pollen dusting the table

the door slams
a sapling grows through the roof
the walls fall in

the hillside sighs



Click here to read Martha McCollough on the origin of the poem.

Image: “Mt. Greylock” by buoutingclub, licensed under CC 2.0.

Martha McCollough:
I was climbing around some trails on Mount Greylock, looking for a waterfall I’d visited before, when I came across an overgrown stone foundation, maybe a former mill, on the steeply pitched, rocky edge of a fast-moving stream. It seemed such an inhospitable, almost hostile place to build anything, and it didn’t seem surprising that whatever it was had been abandoned. But in this poem I wanted to find a way to collapse the process of decay, like a time-lapse photograph, and to express a sense of the transience of human impact on this landscape at least.

Martha McCollough
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