We Drive down Tennessee Freeways until We See a Line of Trees Growing from an Old Field Fence in an Otherwise Open Pasture and at this Sight I Hear the Thunder of Empire and also Something like Once-wild Wills — Sarah Passino

The long shadow moves across
the low-bottoms land all day until
it falls at the foot of the mountain.
As if it has been cast out from this stand
of trees grown from barbed-wire roots,
the shadow’s sharp form loosens,
and stretches its sovereign subjects:
haw, oak, pine–and then stops.

The shadow stops at the foothills, or
to say, at the ground-knowledge of moons
of maroons, where light can not distinguish
itself from dark; can’t not extinguish itself in
to night. Here, like this, the shadow holds,
giving its best picture of title: fragile, creeping, still.

That’s what I think when as we drive by now:
that this shadow has waited, just like this,
each late-afternoon. And it waits again–long
enough for us to barrel past from freeways,
from cotton-wooled days and to look up
right now, on this day, at this righteous hour,
and looking, to see: the last reach of this tree-
line bowing down to the uplands, and seeing,
to ask: what is marked by this beauty?

My brow presses to the back window, and with
my finger I trace this line against the glass,
a line that falls back across the field and I don’t
know what to call it. Instead, we begin to study the
trees and call out together–to who? to who do we sing
now that we see this theft and this plot in this light.


Sarah Passino is a plein-air poet living by the ocean in a big city. She writes about the places where property lines end or give way.

Image: Newfoundland Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, Ken Lund, Creative Commons