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Only the Light
by Marion Menna
Waking, the room was filled
with late afternoon shadows and bright
white ripples across the desk and wall.
Watching, I was grateful it had come.
I rose, went to the desk and wrote,
"Deep in tall ferns, moss soft underfoot,
the dog ran free along the poetry trail,
alert to the movement of falling yellow.
maple leaves deeper in the forest."
Reading the plaques, one by one,
atop the posts along the trail, I stopped
for the one that spoke to me, an elegy,
only the light from common water,
only the grace of simple stone.*
*From Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Elegy Before Death”
Poetry trail at Steepletop, Austerlitz, NY.
by Marion Menna
Who liked to be called Vincent,
named her home Steepletop
because it sits at the summit
of a mountain road which is easy
to navigate in a car these days but
probably seemed endless in her time.
Her poetry has the sound of yesteryear
to me, though not to Dave, who reads history.
But the woods, the woods, remain the same,
a sanctuary, the dog running off-leash,
alert to sounds under the leaf litter,
aware of the movement of light in the trees,
birch, tamaracks, old oaks and poplars,
and even before I saw them, he heard them
talking to one another in low throaty chuck-
chucks, three tall turkeys taking a short cut
through the woods to the fields beyond.
We stood at the point where they disappeared
into the edge, where the woods give way
to tall swaying grasses and wild flowers,
and I understood how their iridescent feathers
reflected the light as did the ferns, the trilliums,
the fallen tree limbs and quivering leaves.
Looking down, I noticed I was standing
on a carpet of low-bush blueberries,
reached down and picked a few, small,
perfectly round and blue, ate them,
so very, very sweet and good.
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) was an American lyrical poet
and playwrite and the first woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for