For many years our family would camp in October on the Columbus Day long weekend. It was great to get out of the city cement into forests. Many times we rented a cabin at Bass River State Forest, in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. I wrote this poem many years ago about our last trip, published in the Naugatuck River Review.
New Jersey Pine Barrens, 1990
Mist sprites rise like scrim from the ‘skeeter-green lake. An early fall freeze stirs around our cabin, the last camp-out of my children’s childhood. I heard that Redcoats deserted here— hardly boys—who learned to char wood for smelters that pilled cannon shot. An odd Scots burr can still be heard in the bush. Tonight I strain to hear the rustle of children growing; they too are ready to decamp. Newly burned when we first came here, ankle-high saplings speckled the sand. But pine and maple grew like you two. Now a forest covers the blight. Here I come upon you, moonblue by the creek, my girl curled inward over shy breasts, furred eyes scurrying under my light. If I could catch that animal, girl, what I could tell it—how love can withstand storms, even in sand, feeding on its own mulch and old wet pooling deep down. It builds on mossy delusions until a spark snaps after years of drought. Then all that canopy blazes, transpires into black lumps, ready.