The Wilderness of You
Updated: Apr 28
A poem for my son, the unfathomable one.
“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because they are unfathomable. " ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods
“He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted…” - Jon Krakauer Into the Wild
When I gaze across the landscape of you,
I want to turn you into a National Park.
I want to demarcate the edges of you,
Create a border to hem it in,
Then make it clear to everyone around,
That they are not to trespass here.
If they enter it is only to observe,
Immerse themselves in the
Knowing that they can never know.
If I could,
I would create beautiful hand-carved signs
Welcoming those who wish to visit
But who will always
take their rubbish with them when they go.
Anyone who steals from this place
Or leaves their rotten baggage behind,
Will receive a fine.
A hefty one.
And will be told to go away to some drab forsaken piece of concrete that lost all its beautiful wildness decades ago.
No, your wilderness is a jungle.
A towering rainforest of trees the width of houses and the height of stars Where birds Amphibians Arboreal mammals
Come to rest in your quietude.
They scurry from nook to cranny
Looking for the nourishment
that only wildness can provide.
They would starve, Or go homeless in a more well-pruned environment.
They belong to no one
And the earth from which all of us come and go.
If I could,
I would keep you this way forever.
Free of the expectations of
I keep asking myself,
delayed from what?
Divergent from who?
Your mountains are summits I myself may never see over
To catch the grandeur of what lays beyond:
The hills that roll and sway under the apricot sky Carpeted with forests the colour of Sunset and mangoes and pomegranates.
But, let’s not be fools. There are dark forests here too.
Places that are terrifying to any
Mortal man (is that you?) And they hold you some hours, Some days,
Some weeks - And I try to go there with you,
Or at least stand on the shore of your desperation
Waiting for you to grab my hand so I can pull you to the safety of the forest floor.
but only sometimes,
I am strong enough for this.
When I am not, you are.
You always return to the woods Where the light falls like silence through the branches of the canopy, To the sun-filled groves of native fruit.
In your own way, each time, you pull yourself from the mire to find the beautiful places of your wild.
While my heart is all over you,
I know also that I will never visit the entirety of this expanse. There is no cartography (though we may try), No topographical markings (despite the expert opinions),
No cross-sections or contour lines
That can predict the highs, lows, clearings, streams, directions of animal paths.
You are unfathomable.
I see now this wilderness is yours alone.
You are not mine
to turn into any National Park. You belong to no one.
You are wilderness and mystery and you are full of light.