Today’s poem is “The Avon Woods” by Anna Wrobel, who lived in Maine’s western mountains and now lives in Westbrook. She was raised in the Bronx by two WWII refugees, one a resistance leader, one a Soviet soldier, both from a town in central Poland. She’s the author of three books of poems, most recently The Arrangement of Things (Moonpie Press 2018) and her poems and essays have appeared in Off the Coast, Café Review, and Jewish Currents.
She writes, “Forests were central to understanding our parents. For my mother, a town girl, the woods were her troop's hidden base of survival and planning. For my father, raised in an orchard, woods were happy places presenting trees to be climbed. In America we visited mountain and forest, but my parents had not been to Maine until my small family took to homesteading in the backwoods of Franklin County in the mid 1970's. The poem depicts how the Maine woods affected them in a unique way. In all their years in America, they'd never smelled air that reminded them so precisely of Poland…”
The Avon Woods
by Anna Wrobel
(for Maylan “Red” Wilbur of Avon, Maine)
“Why do you live in the woods?”
she would say.
(hidden in pouring rain/ice
broken bladder, bulleted leg
lying/sleeping in lice and ditches
a plentiful and constant fear)
But she came back
a second and a third time,
walked old roads in early winter
in oversized timber boots,
breathed air she’d not tasted
since Poland - a parallel flora perhaps
a snowflake finding its impossible twin.
The first time he came, Dad took a tree,
small pine bundled up in cloth
replanted in Queens, New York
a piece of me, Maine, Poland, himself.
Under his gaze it grew
strong and symmetrical
likely more so than if left
in the covered, competing forest.
They’ve left that house now
a bit of Avon woods
with the Russian immigrants
who’ve settled in.
“The Avon Woods” copyright 2008 by Anna Wrobel. Originally appeared in Marengo Street (Moon Pie Press, 2012), by permission of the author.