A Poem by Rivera Sun
Learning words for landscape
place-terms in the language of geology
an incantation linking my wayward soul
with tenterhooks and spiderwebs
hair-thin roots and
curling pea shoot tendrils
anchoring my humanity to this earth:
tuckamore, vly, chockstone, fen.
Can you feel the wilds awakening
within you at their sound?
Stirring like spring,
fertile and feral:
hummock, loess, nickpoint, pediment,
oxbow, portage, riprap, scarp.
A world opening up at their speaking,
a way of being, once-forgotten, revived,
a calling back of the self
to an existence where the
landscape looms large
and requires more words:
vale, wrack line, copse, dell,
tillage, flatiron, moraine, gulch.
I chant and my body widens.
I chant and my mind opens.
I chant and my soul deepens.
I grow into this terrain, remembered,
resurrected, or even imagined anew.
Author’s Note: The poem was inspired after finding a copy of “Home Ground” at our local used bookstore. This amazing book is like a dictionary of partially-forgotten words. It is compiled by writers and references writers’ writings, including John Muir and Mark Twain. It has at least three European languages, reflecting immigrant history. The many different words deriving their names from Native languages remind us that this land’s original peoples still live here and their history and present give form to this landscape in profound and powerful ways.