Few poems speak to our love of place and the way it can enrich and enlarge our spirits as well as Mary Ricketson's Lost in the Roar of Big Santeetlah. When we fall in love with a place, as Mary reveals in this poem, we want to carry that love with us, giving it away generously to the world at large. This is how we will save our places from degradation, this is the legacy we will leave to our children.
Mary's poem recently won the poetry contest sponsored by the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, itself a legacy of what remains of the old growth forests that once flourished in our mountains. Only a few stands remain now. Big Santeetlah Creek runs through this beloved landscape. Mary's poem is a fine and appropriate way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Kilmer Memorial Forest.
Mary lives in Murphy and has been an active member of the Writers Network West for years. She published a chapbook, I Hear the River Call My Name, with Finishing Line Press in 2008, which I featured on my North Carolina Laureate's Writers & Books site. You will find out more about Mary there.
Lost in the Roar of Big Santeetlah
I cross a wooden bridge.
A stand of dark red trillium
waits for my attention.
White violets and crested dwarf iris
sit quietly at trail’s edge. Birdsong begins.
Butterflies dance. Jack in the Pulpit presides.
River birch, pine and poplar stand tall.
Rippling water stills my thoughts.
I can taste the wind.
Soon pink lady slipper will bloom,
then purple rhododendron.
I know every season at this forest.
I fell in love here long ago,
found comfort on this path,
met parts of me I did not know,
told secrets never spoken.
Trees made promises
then asked for mine.
I fill myself with peace and hope when I am here
then give it all away when I am gone.