Visiting Utopia #4
Walden Pond. Concord, MA. 2016.
Walden is mostly bugs and sweat in August,
flies finding crevices I'd forgotten
existed. Maybe they like the way I sweat. Maybe
this trail ends on a new row of condos. No —
another set of railroad tracks, their endlessness
beckoning me — no, these tracks are calling
two children and their father hiking, these precious
summer days they'll faintly remember
when they’re older. I go swimming instead
of barging into their memories. On my back,
staring up at the tippy tops of trees cutting
away the horizon, sealing off how close
this is to reality. I'm peeing in Walden Pond,
my toes don't quite touch the bottom,
but I can almost reach another plane,
reach back to last summer wearing red shoes
and unsure about each other, soft brushes
of arms until one of us grabs the other's hand.
We didn't take a picture because you hate
pictures. That moment doesn't last because
of course it doesn't. Treading water
a year later, and finally a train comes roaring by.
Its call reminds me I'm here, and I'm sure
those kids can't hold back their delight
as it storms by and forever away.
I've been writing about 19th century American utopian communities, and Walden was really a bit of a diversion. I think I spent two days there this summer. Being in that space, thinking about solitude as a contrast to community living, but another way of escaping — this poem is sorting through those thoughts.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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