Unnatural Succession

“Natural Succession,” the sign says.

It’s a small sign on a simple post
placed beside the trail, its paragraph striving 
to explain the growth in the area just beyond it.

The just beyond is a stand of young trees
mostly eastern red cedar, sweetgum, 
a few elms and the rest loblolly pine.

Brambles claw at their modest trunks
while Virginia creeper and poison ivy 
work their way skyward, green-red and springtime shiny.

I understand the “succession” part of the sign
but — not to be difficult — I have to take exception
to the word “natural.”

At some point in the recent past
a bright yellow behemoth (more than one, I’m sure)
made its way across this place

uprooting

ripping 
and 
rending 

all that stood 
in its path.

The land was left devoid of anything organic, bare and raw
silt-red rainwater running in rivulets
through the track-tread trenches.

But, yes, nature is succeeding
Birds fly from tree to tree, and the blight
is becoming harder to see and more of a memory.

For that, I am thankful.


Just a note: I truly am thankful for the donation of the lands I spoke of in the poem above, and I’m thankful for the stewardship and conservation efforts of the Land Trust of North Alabama. That said, I hope we get to a point where it’s not necessary to go on biggering and biggering. If I’m not mistaken, that’s how the Onceler put it. The Lorax’s response: “Unless.”

9 thoughts on “Unnatural Succession”

  1. Thanks for this form of poetry. I learned about different plants, of course I’m not familiar with many of them. I’m off to find out about the yellow behemoth. This poem is more of a non-fiction text . Thank you for always teaching us more about nature.

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    1. Juliette, thanks for reading and commenting! The trees here in the southern United States are different than other parts of North America, and I’m sure they’re different than what you have where you live. I’ve walked through the woods in a few different parts of the world (Asia and Europe, mostly), and enjoyed it every time.

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  2. I see what you mean about us being of similar minds today. The havoc we humans we wreak upon the face of Nature … It is heartbreaking. The short lines — the actions of the machines — really bring home the thoughtlessness of it all.

    Thank you so much for this. Now I need to look up the delightful-sounding “loblolly pine.”

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    1. It can, indeed, be heartbreaking. I live in a house, and I drive on roads, so I’m not being hypocritical and saying construction shouldn’t happen, but will there ever be a time when enough is enough?

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  3. Your poem is so well-crafted, Tim. When I look at the first few stanzas, I’m scrolling through lines that are neat, that are well-ordered and tidy, that are very clear with their images, with words of placement and direction. And then – there is this “uprooting, ripping and rending” that tears it all apart before you bring us back together once again. Beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Lainie. That was a hard poem to write, emotionally. I love the property I was writing about, but it’s clear that there was a time of great destruction followed by “it’ll grow back.” It has, but certainly not in a natural fashion, and that’s hard.

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  4. I love the way the stanza about the destruction has shorter, almost brutal lines. Great poem. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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