I wrote this poem to give vent to my anger at the cancer of Candy Castles that was about to devastate my bouldering route up through The Woodfield Reservation, down into the hollow beyond “Council Rock,” and up again toward Crescent Rock, Province Line Road, and Cradle Rock.

Hear the Ridge’s Song


A prayer for the preservation of the Cradle Rock

boulder area on the Princeton Ridge,

where the piedmont meets the coastal plain

and the growing season lasts half the year. 1992

When the bud sheathes burst and fell,

I started from the tall pine

at the center of the village

and walked toward the setting sun,

crossing the bottomland

and climbing the great ridge.

The hardwoods leaned into the land,

and higher still, the stones

rose up from the ground.

I began to dance for them—

with Dogwood, Chipmunk, Wren,

and others, dancing as one

into a hollow where we found

the elders gathered in a throng,

hunched backs of diabase and basalt,

still hard at work from rain

to rain, singing the forest's song.

Then, I was looking up into the air,

alone, trying to recall the fault

that held me captive there

in the shadow of my pain.

A fire swept across the canopy,

and the darkness in its wake

was feathered black on black

with bony claws for stars.

The vulture who makes her nest

under the boulder where I fell

hooked her beak into my tongue.

All night she told me to her young,

and then at dawn, to show

that her account is never done,

though older even than the stones,

she let me rise and run

back to the village

in my ribbons and my bones.