A MICROSCOPE IN SHENANDOAH
A poem by Kimberly Shyu
The stillness of the woods,
away from the bustle of life,
invites me to be calm, expanded and replenished,
as if it knew I needed a reprieve…
… a reprieve from news, social banter and commitments.
A place to be quiet and observe:
the natural news of fall’s color bursts, warm sun and invigorating chill,
the social banter of squirrels foraging for acorns or minnows clustering in a creek pool,
and the commitment of our minds to the peace of nature.
But is it, in fact, still?
I wonder as I watch.
There’s a community of its own
that goes beyond mammals and fish,
and into the minuscule world—
for those of us willing to pause and look down.
But lift your head first.
Do you feel the wind rustling the autumn leaves…
like a farmer stuffing a scarecrow with dry corn husks?
Do you see the clouds brush the blue sky overhead…
like an artist's swift hand paints a bright Caribbean ceramic pot?
Do you taste the sweet oxygen as you inhale a deep breath of mountain air…
recycled from our ancestors for millennia?
Do you hear the trickle of water as it obeys the laws of physics…
so well-behaved and predictable?
The microscopic details unravel as I kneel
closer and closer to the earth—
I feel connected, inspired and deeply satisfied.
There are mushrooms so small
they’re the size of your pinky.
And rocks older than you and everyone you ever knew.
The moss on the rocks is its own small forest,
teeming with life.
New growth shoots out,
reaching up toward the sun,
like an over-eager student
whose hand waves with exertion,
begging for a teacher’s attention.
But the plant wants no fame,
no acceptance, no recognition;
it only wants survival,
programmed with purpose
and perfected over the ages.
In the woods we can reflect on our past.
The evolution of plants,
the formation of landscapes,
so natural and uninhibited by psychology.
In the woods we can be present,
appreciate the Earth and its offerings,
and honor the bounty of biodiversity.
In the woods we can consider the future.
The Earth will always be there for you…
… but will you be there for it?