Guest Blog by author and poet Leigh Hancock

If I lived here I would know and could tell you

where the blackcaps grow thickest, in hedges too

solid for even deer to pass through, where

chanterelles shag the forest floor and elderberries

dusty and blue cover a hillside far from the road

I would be privileged midnight or noon to walk

soft trails, my footprints part of the daily pattern

pressed into the needles and duff.  If I lived here

I would run without fear through wet leaves and

tall grasses, would slide like sunlight under low

branches, would sit still and let the fog blanket

me in —

I would dream this trail into existence and know

I exist because it is here—

My breath would be part of the forest song, the

sounds of clouds parting, the first autumn rain,

the lightest strum of deer passing in snow.  If I

lived here I would know these trees not by name

but by blessing, and after a storm I would walk

through the forest and see who had fallen and

who still rose tall.  I would know the snags

where a flicker once nestled and how a bear

lumbered through that clearing last summer,

 while a porcupine’s needles turned green gold

in the sun.  I would read whole stories in the

gallop of hoof prints and know what had

happened on days I was gone—

If I lived here I would give all to let each fir

grow to fullest old age, its bark a thick world

of crannies and whorls where humbled bats

crease their wings in devotion.  I would let

each chapter unfold as it should, give each

creature its moment of glory, its promenade

across this forest stage—

If I lived here I would stand in the shadows

and bear witness to another house rising,

four thousand square feet where mergansers

paddled, not once upon a time but only last

year.  I would wake to the questions, How

much is enough and feel in my belly the

lack of an answer in a world where one is

what one has, nothing more—

I would understand waste as an act of

violence, how if someone has two homes

someone else has none, and when a tree

falls ten thousand breaths fall with it,

breaths no one will breathe ever again—

If I lived here I would visit two neighbors,

despair and extremism, wonder and rage,

I would tell myself to be grateful not

greedy for each day that passes silent of

saws.  The reverence of the condemned

would remind me that each walk here

might be my last—

If I lived here—

And I do.