Woodman & Woodland

Steve and I had a wonderful adventure driving across the state and ended up at Wyalusing State Park, where the Wisconsin River dumps into the Mississippi.  The wind was stiff and the air was cold, but the skies were cloudless and the wildflowers plentiful.  It did get down to freezing overnight, but that didn’t bother us.  We woke up at about 5 a.m. because the moon was so bright and took our traditional night hike (without flashlights), cheeks burning from the cold. We burrowed back into the warmth of the tent, well-padded by every layer of clothing we brought and woke up a few hours later after the sun had begun to thaw things out.  We spent a lot of time talking about our relationship and our future and came back after only one night because our energy had shifted to getting things accomplished at home and starting new jobs on Monday.   Why?  So we can fashion a life that allows us to travel further and get away from city life for longer periods of time.

I took over one hundred photos and will dole them out in little batches.  Today’s photos are of Woodman, Wisconsin on the Wisconsin River, population 89 (in 2009).  I give Steve credit for spotting these storefronts on Main Street and doing a U-turn so that I could take pictures. 

We also spotted along this road, which parallels the Wisconsin river, 7 wild turkeys.  Yesterday was the beginning of the first week of spring turkey hunting.  I jumped out of the car to try to get a picture of 4 of them in a stubbly corn field, but they trotted away.  Yup, turkeys trot.  Seems like they enjoy a healthy population and plenty of habitat.  I don’t know if anyone still makes clothing from their feathers or if they’re featured on the menu at the local diner, but I do know that the WI Dep’t. of Natural Resources posts access to public hunting grounds all along the riverway.  We took one of those roads and got only so far in the car, then walked the rest of the way to the river.  How far?  This far.


So, that’s the first installment of pictures and the first part of our trip.  Now for the poetry.  While I’ve been away, the NaPoWriMo folks have posted 3 prompts.  I decided to simply take my pick today and chose a topic that suited my mood.  The following poem is based on “an experience of the 5 senses”.

Woodland Awakening


Within the heavy, smothering cocoon of cotton, wool and leather,

My limbs begin to shift and stir.

A sharp, fresh draft of cooler air snakes through the cracks in my massive nest.

My nostrils flare to greet it like a seal’s in sea ice portals.

The tease is smokey and crisp, like the promise of bacon,

Enticing me to surface. I blink my barely moistened eyes

And try to comprehend the letters, upside down and inside out,

Imprinted on my nylon tent.

The blue light brightens there, the shadows growing more defined,

As rapid-drumming woodpeckers and the two-note chickadee

Introduce a chorus of individual calls crisscrossing overhead.

The crackle from my dried-out throat is sadly put to shame.

My tongue lies limp and listless, longing for a bathe in good, strong coffee.

My will and my reluctant muscles begin a lazy conversation,

Ignoring the foregone conclusion.

Stay tuned for spelunking and sunsets yet to come!

13 thoughts on “Woodman & Woodland

  1. I cannot reduce to five
    the number of my senses
    for touch alone comprises four
    or more
    as itch and pain
    temperature and pressure
    have unique reception
    not to mention proprioception
    that global knowledge of self and space
    where any change to swaddling fascia
    deforms the structure of
    a liquid crystalline whole
    connecting each cell to every other
    superconducting information
    in relation one part to another
    every part to the whole
    and the pull of gravity
    flows viscous through the body
    orienting self to earth

    I can close my eyes to the world
    muffle myself in silence
    swallow air through my mouth like a fish
    depriving scent and taste at once
    and yet my body knows itself
    living inside my skin
    until it too floats weightless
    never senseless
    instead in transcendence
    bathed in the boundlessness of dream
    a dance, synapse to synapse,
    trillions of times over
    fills in the void

    I cannot reduce to five
    the number of my senses
    I have only one brain
    which gives birth to a duality
    of what was and what has changed
    which gives birth to the ten thousand things.
    What I sense with the anatomy of wonder
    must go unnamed
    but not uncounted.

  2. I like your storefront photos — I’m looking forward to seeing the rest from the trip. Your poem too is very evocative and readily put me in mind to write about the subject.

  3. I have revisions to my poem already — I wish I could delete comments here so I can repost the edited version. Instead you’ll get to see my mental process, especially the part that comes up with improvements in hindsight.

    Please read the final stanza not as written above but like this:

    I cannot hold on one hand
    the number of my senses
    My singular brain
    gives birth to a duality
    of what was and what has changed
    which gives birth to the ten thousand things.
    What sense I take in from
    an anatomy of wonder made flesh
    proceeds unchanged, undivided,
    unnamed but not uncounted.

  4. I stumbled across your blog while performing a Google search of my hometown, and wanted to thank you for posting your pictures – they are beautiful! I waited for the school bus every morning many years ago in those chairs, as that store was where all of us would get picked up and dropped off. Thank you for sharing the memories!

    • You’re very welcome! I would love to hear about growing up in that small town. I’m intrigued by places that seem to have resisted development. Too many have the same stores, the same chain restaurants, the same sameness.

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