By: Christopher Johnson
The Menominee Forest is thick with woods.
The forest vaults across northern Wisconsin
Near Peshtigo where hell broke out and claimed the sacred lives of hundreds of Americans the self-same week as the Chicago Fire—1871.
We have penetrated this forest with its soaring white pines—trees born more than 400 years ago.
The Menominee people are mere keepers of the forest.
Don’t own it but care for it.
Choosing the trees to cut with tender care.
Recognizing each tree as being individual,
A brother or sister of this earth.
To walk through this forest is to walk through time.
Thick trees soaring toward heaven
And spreading their pine limbs and blocking the light,
Except for the narrow shafts of sun that cut through the needles
And pierce Mother Earth.
The tangled limbs of the trees coagulate above us, folding hands of needles of dark green the green of Ireland the green of emeralds,
Glistening dew-like in the narrow shafts of sun.
We tramp through the primeval forest, which reaches out before us, moss-carpeted like giant felt.
And then the coup de grace:
Barbara with her laughing eyes and gentle mouth
Wraps her arms around the white pine, embraces it,
And feels the heart of the tree and senses the
Sap flowing like blood through the tree
And feels the soul of the tree touch her.