The Library of the Forest

Dec 14, 2018

Today’s poem is “The Library of the Forest” by Jefferson Navicky. He is the author of the poetic novel, The Book of Transparencies, and the story collection, The Paper Coast. He is the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection and teaches English at Southern Maine Community College.

He writes, "The poem takes its title from the amazing project 'The Library of the Forest' by Miquel Angel Blanco. A biologist friend sent an article about Blanco's library to my wife, who loved the title phrase. She saved the phrase for a writing prompt when we were out on a date at a bad Mexican restaurant. The restaurant ran out of guacamole, and the margaritas were terrible, but at least I got this poem out of it."

The Library of the Forest
by Jefferson Navicky

I.
Many years ago when it was
first put here by those who believed
in the magic down the moss
the words formed by lichen that told
of how it used to be and how
to keep the green green
and the tilt in the
rock, we were not alive.
We found it like this.

II.
The books live well
in the library of the forest.
We haven’t added anything.
We didn’t think it needed it.
And so our stewardship
is to read on the mossy reclines
to make our way through
the volumes left to us
I have taken science
and she has taken literature
and we will meet in the middle
where the birches bend
below the rotted pine
she tells me what I’ve missed
I read to her my favorite
passages earmarked with a sap
cluster that will last for
a very long time but the
forever we have always
envisioned does not forever
as no forever does and so
we must plan.

III.
We don’t know
who will find the library
after we’ve gone
we wish we could know
could find the right
people to take over
the task of green and reading
but we haven’t seen
anyone for years upon
years just deer
and squirrels and the
occasional edible mushroom
that by now feels like
a fellow living creature
we’re tired but
we’re not done yet
but soon will be
we know the library
could sit dormant for years
and of course we worry
but we tell ourselves
we found it once
by chance and so can
others it only takes
the few to carry on
the work of reading
of holding this living
thing in your heart.

Poem copyright ©2018 Jefferson Navicky.